“The media” is a dirty term for fans. And for media. Until they become the media. Former Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor was one player who always had a pretty good relationship with “the media”, though, and so it’s no surprise that he has been able to carve out a second career for himself in that role.
Taylor, the last lockdown corner the Steelers have had, now locks down weekly cornerback rankings for the league’s website. He did not go so far as to put anybody from Pittsburgh on his top 10 list. But he did include the pair of Artie Burns and Joe Haden, together, as one of the top duos in the league.
You can probably guess who the first two duos are. Chris Harris and Aqib Talib of the Broncos were ranked first. Taylor ranked Talib second in the league behind Josh Norman, and Harris 10th. Behind them were the Jaguars’ A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey, ranked eighth and seventh, respectively.
While neither Haden nor Burns made the top 10 list, I think most fans would agree that they have overall been solid this year. After all, the Steelers as a team still rank second in the league in the fewest passing yards allowed, and are still tied for the second-fewest yards allowed per attempt, even if it jumped up half a yard since the last game to 6.2.
Only one team in the league, the Bills, has given up fewer than the Steelers’ six touchdown passes on the season, while they rank in the middle of the pack in terms of interceptions recorded, so their numbers are consistently good all around.
And this is after their worst game of the year, by far, in terms of yardage given up, even though it is notable that they shut the down in the red zone, forcing the Lions to go 0-for-5 in the most important area of the field.
“The Steelers bent but didn’t break against Matthew Stafford and the Lions in Week 8”, Taylor wrote about his former team. “Stafford threw for over 400 yards, yet the Lions didn’t get in the end zone all game”.
According to their data, “Haden allowed four receptions on eight targets for 66 yards, while Burns gave up four catches on seven targets for 88 yards. That’s a lot of yards between the two”, he said in stating the obvious, “but the defense as a whole was great in the red zone. Communication keeps improving in this secondary and it’s showing”.
The Steelers’ secondary hasn’t been perfect through the first half of the season, but they haven’t had to be, and they have been growing. It’s been good enough to help get them to the bye with a 6-2 record and one of the best scoring defenses in the league. Now it’s time to make last-minute adjustments for the stretch run and then on into the playoffs.