Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Ike Taylor Was Mercilessly Exploited Last Season


 

In my humble opinion, Ike Taylor was one of the league’s most underrated cornerbacks from about 2007 to 2010. Although his hands prevented him from racking up large amounts of interceptions, Taylor was one of the most important pieces in Pittsburgh’s secondary. Taylor would shut down opposing teams’ best receivers, and his play in run support was solid.

Unfortunately for the Steelers and Taylor, his age might have finally caught up with him last fall. The veteran cornerback was mercilessly picked on by opposing offenses during the 2013 campaign, and his declining skill-set made him an easy target when he was lined up against receivers who were younger, faster and simply more athletic than him.

According to Pro Football Focus (via Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), Taylor surrendered the more passing yards (1,043) than any cornerback in the NFL during the 2013 campaign. Now I certainly hate to be a Negative Nancy, but this was a defensive backfield which featured the likes of William Gay and Cortez Allen at the other cornerback spots last fall. The fact that opposing signal-callers felt more comfortable to target Taylor insinuates plenty about how he played.

Taylor’s issues and inability to stick with some of the best receivers in the league were put on display during a three-game stretch in the month of November. Calvin Johnson torched Ike for 179 yards and two touchdowns in one half in Week 11. The following week, Josh Gordon the Steelers up for 237 yards and one touchdown in Week 12. Then on Thanksgiving night, Torrey Smith racked up 93 yards and a touchdown for the Ravens.

Thus, it was no coincidence that Ike lost the responsibility to cover opposing teams’ number one wide receivers towards the end of last season.

Make no mistake, I am not insinuating that the Steelers need to release Taylor during the upcoming offseason. He still has one season left on his current contract, the team’s depth at cornerback is extremely thin and defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau apparently has an aversion to playing rookies in his secondary.

However, Ike’s declining play has to concern the front office enough to make a concerted effort during the upcoming offseason to bolster the cornerback position with some younger and more talented personnel. Whether it is through the 2014 NFL Draft or the free agency process, I am not sure. Yet Pittsburgh’s brass has to notice that Taylor, who will turn 34 in May, might be at the end of his career from a productivity standpoint.

 

 

 

 

Stats & Contract Info. Provided By: ESPN.comSteelers.comSpotrac and Pro Football Reference

 

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  • Thumper833

    The issue as we know is his cap hit. Sure we need to keep him around but probably can’t. Expect DBs to be drafted.early and often….

  • Steel Kikn

    Id love to see Dereril Revis in Black n Gold!

  • spam 90210

    If Troy actually had a defensive assignment instead of roaming around all the time, it wouldn’t be so predictable that Ike is on an island. NO ONE can cover Josh Gordon or Calvin Johnson one on one. The league allows pushing off. The solution is clutch and grab and big pass rush like the Seahawks do. Get a pass rush and we’ll be fine. Trade Troy for a 1st rounder and bring in a SS that can cover someone. Ike is still a top 10 CB. Name me 9 better CBs. Name me 3 guys who always covered the other team’s #1 by himself.

    • Dom DiTolla

      Richard Sherman
      Darrelle Revis
      Aqib Talib
      Joe Haden
      Patrick Peterson
      Leon Hall
      Brandon Flowers
      Keenan Lewis
      Brent Grimes
      Alterraun Verner
      Charles Tillman
      Lardarius Webb
      Jimmy Smith
      Carlos Rogers
      Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
      Chris Harris
      Antonio Cromartie

      Is this list long enough for you? Because I could come up with way more cornerbacks who are better than Ike Taylor. Moreover, I don’t think “Top 10” cornerbacks lose their “number one” privileges to guys like William Gay and Cortez Allen in the middle of the season either.

      I’m going to assume that you know nothing regarding the value of draft picks either. No possible way that the Steelers are offered a first round pick for the services of a 33-year old safety. Troy had to freelance so much because the team was so awful in other positional areas like inside linebacker. Face it, Ike is no longer the player he once was. No amount of mental gymnastics and lying to yourself will change it.

      • bonairsfavoriteson

        And you left out about about 15 that are still in college.

      • spam 90210

        Only guys who are clearly ahead of Ike are: Sherman, Haden, Peterson, Lewis, and maybe Talib, but I’ve watched games where Talib got burnt bad. Plus he has off the field issues and may not be worth having over someone like Ike who has no off field issues at all. Revis is slow and can’t keep up with fast WRs. He couldn’t improve the Bucs defense at all and didn’t help them win. Revis is nowhere near the CB he used to be. Flowers had an off-year I’ve heard in a few different places. Smith has off-field problems. Rodgers-Cromartie has never been described as a top CB. No idea where you got that from. Do you even watch football?

        I’ve been saying for YEARS that Troy was overrated, but every single coach and QB in the league kisses Troy’s butt like he’s the best player in the NFL. All it takes is one of those teams to trade for him. Very possible if some team would trade TWO #1 draft picks for a washed up Carson Palmer way past his prime.

        • Dom DiTolla

          Do you watch football? Because those guys I listed above enjoyed far more successful seasons than Ike did. The number ones I listed above weren’t demoted from covering opponents’ number one wide receivers. Ike was a liability on the back-end.

          Also, did you watch Polamalu last season, he actually created turnovers and earned a Pro Bowl berth? How many turnovers did Ike create or was responsible for? Oh yeah, zero! Also, just because players have off-field problems doesn’t mean they aren’t fantastic players on the field.

          Finally, in terms of draft pick compensation, if you knew anything about it, the quarterback position always garners more value and draft picks than the safety spot.