It’s not very easy to be a cornerback at the top of your profession for a very long period of time, let alone for a decade or more. Former Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor played the game for 12 years, and while not all of those years may have been at a high level, he knows a thing or two about the longevity of skills and how rare that quality is at a position as athletically demanding at cornerback.
And that is largely why he hopes that Pennsylvania native and one-time-almost-Steeler Darrelle Revis, arguably the greatest at his position of a generation, chooses to call it a career rather than continue to play following what was not only by far the worst season of this career, but one of the worst performances at the position in the entire league.
Taylor works as a contributor for NFL.com, and he recently wrote an article in the aftermath of Revis’ legal issues and his claim that it would be a dream to play for his ‘local’ team, the Steelers, who were a couple of spots away from drafting him when he came out in 2007.
“From my point of view—as a former cornerback who played in the NFL for 12 seasons—I strongly think Revis should retire”, he concluded in his piece. “And five years from now, the impact he made during his decade in the league will put him in Canton”.
But Taylor doesn’t think it would do him any good to keep trying to play now. He cited the dramatic and precipitous statistical fall in his play from 2015 to 2016. He gave up 27 catches on 56 targets in 2015, less than 50 percent, for 370 yards and a passer rating of 51.9. in 2016, he gave up 51 receptions on 79 targets for 743 yards and a quarterback rating of 102.5.
That was the second-worst quarterback rating allowed of all top cornerbacks in the league in 2016, behind only Damarious Randall of the Packers, and his 64.6 percent catch rate allowed was the most, 11 percent higher than the league average.
“At his peak, Revis had impeccable patience at the line of scrimmage”, Taylor wrote. “He mastered bump-and-run coverage and was one of the best at disrupting the timing between quarterback and receiver”. He talked about Revis’ “hand placement on receivers in press coverage” and said “he could catch like a receiver”.
That wasn’t what we saw from him last season. It was “undoubtedly the most jarring of Revis’ professional career”. But Taylor doesn’t want to see him move to safety either, even though he thinks he can do it—Bill Belichick apparently doesn’t.
“Perhaps selfishly”, he admits, “I don’t want to look at Revis as a guy who played both” cornerback and safety. “I see him as a pure cornerback. What he’s done in his career is rare. He was a starter at cornerback from Day 1 through his 10th season, and the caliber at which he played is almost unmatched”.
He has a Super Bowl ring, he notes, and made over $100 million in his career. He even had an island nickname to describe his play. But that time is past, and Taylor thinks it’s time for everyone to move on.