Part 2: Ball Skills
For several years, Ike Taylor has been the Steelers shutdown corner. The coaches would always put him on the opposing teams best receiver. Ike Taylor completion percentage against for the past couple seasons has been Revis type numbers. Ike is week in and week out a shutdown corner for the Steelers, for the past 8 years. But, as most know, Ike has yet to make a Pro Bowl or an All-Pro team. Why is this? Ike struggles to bring in interceptions. After 10 seasons, Ike Taylor has only 14 interceptions. When Ike said that he thinks Cortez Allen can be way better than himself, I agree due to Cortez’s ability to force turnovers. In 2 games last year, Cortez Allen forced three fumbles, had two interceptions, and one fumble recovery. Allen had twice as many interceptions Taylor had all of last season with these two interceptions! In the past, Dick Lebeau’s corners haven’t been interception machines, but I believe Cortez Allen can change that, after I saw him make this play below:
In the 3rd quarter against the Bengals, Polamalu is in zone coverage on Andrew Hawkins, with Cortez Allen in zone coverage on A.J. Green. They are going to be switching assignments, with Polamalu crashing down on Green, with Allen dropping back around to take Hawkins in the slot.
Cortez Allen is running towards Hawkins as he sees Dalton stare his receiver down.
With the ball having just been released, Allen speeds over to undercut Hawkins while he keeps one eye on the ball at all times.
Now with the ball only seconds away, Hawkins stops his route, because he saw the ball was going to be short. Allen sees this as well as he prepares to step right in front of Hawkins.
Many times, Ike Taylor would be in the right position, he just wasn’t able to secure the ball. Here, Cortez Allen looks the ball right into his hands as he steps in front of Andrew Hawkins at the last second, creating a huge turnover for the Steelers.
The last couple seasons, the Steelers defense has not been the turnover machine that it had been in years past. This is due to aging players in Polamalu and Harrison. If Cortez Allen can continue to force turnovers, not only will he be recognized, but the Steelers will most likely find themselves better than the 8-8 they were last season.