It’s no secret that Ike Taylor was a huge disappointment during the 2013 season. He was awful in every sense of the word and by no means do I think he should still be on the roster this year. I just hope he proves me wrong.
It isn’t entirely out of the question for Taylor to have a rebound year in 2014. Only 3 years ago Ike “Swaggin U” Taylor was among the 10 or 15 best in the NFL at the cornerback position. Age obviously wasn’t the only factor in the decline because he regressed so quickly. By Ike’s own account he battles through a hampering injury last year. That, if true, certainly could have been a big factor in his drop off. Ike also was forced to cover some of the best receivers the NFL has to offer on an island last year. Namely A.J. Green, Brandon Marshall, Calvin Johnson, Josh Gordon, Jordy Nelson, and speedster Torrey Smith. Not to mention he had to cover Green, Gordon, and Smith twice. The games against those receivers made up over half of the Steelers’ schedule. It isn’t an exaggeration to say that Ike had the toughest assignments of any cornerback in
Sep 8, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor (24) looks on from the sidelines against the Tennessee Titans during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. The Tennessee Titans won 16-9. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
the NFL last year, facing arguably the 5 best in the game plus Smith.
When Ike faced the aforementioned receivers he surrendered 53 receptions, 884 yards, and 4 touchdowns in 9 games. In the other 7 games of the Steelers schedule Ike was tasked to cover the likes of Kenny Britt, Greg Jennings, Stephen Hill, Denarius Moore, Aaron Dobson, Stevie Johnson, and Mike Wallace. In those 7 games he gave up 19 receptions, 382 yards, and 4 touchdowns. He had his worst game out of those seven against Dobson. If you count out the totals of that game, Taylor gave up 14 receptions, 252 yards, and 2 touchdowns in 6 games.
If you average the totals from the 9 tougher games he had it comes out to an average of 5.9 receptions, 98.2 yards, and .44 touchdowns per game. If you average his easier 9 games, even with the Dobson game, you get 2.7 receptions, 54.6 yards, and .57 touchdowns. The touchdowns are the only thing that isn’t hugely better in the easier 9 games and if touchdowns aren’t caught in the end-zone they aren’t entirely attributable to the cornerback.
No question that most number one cornerbacks should be able to hold the 7 less talented receivers to those numbers, but at least Taylor shut down legitimate talent in some of those games. When you look at the Steelers 2014 schedule the toughest receivers Mr. Swaggin U will have to face, other than the in division schedule, are Andre Johnson and Julio Jones. Neither of which are sure to great receivers, since Johnson is aging and Jones is coming off of an injury. He may not even have to face Josh Gordon, since he will likely be suspended for the whole 16 game schedule. If Ike cam perform like he did in his better 7 games last year for most of 2014, then the Steelers secondary is in a much better position.
I still don’t feel completely confident in Ike Taylor, especially since I believe he will be covering the #1 receiver because I have little faith in Cortez Allen, but I feel much better about him after doing the research for this article. I don’t think it should go un-discussed that Ike Taylor returns to at least most of his former self.