Former Pittsburgh Steelers defensive back Rod Woodson joined 93.7 The Fan on Wednesday to talk about the team and the problems they are having five games into the season.
Woodson was of course asked to comment on the poor play of cornerback Ike Taylor so far this season and he offered up some great analysis in his response.
“I think Ike needs to get back to the fundamentals,” said Woodson. “For me, Ike needs to be more on the up-field shoulder all the time to the receivers, which makes him be able to slow down a little bit. If he slows down, then he can play better.”
Woodson was asked to explain the up-field shoulder technique and he did.
“Up-field shoulder means that anytime you see a receiver, his shoulder that\’s closest to the sideline is his up-field shoulder,” said Woodson. “And what he needs to do, he needs to be closer to that shoulder – so when they run come backs – if you\’re closer to that shoulder, then you\’re playing slower in your head, and plus, you take away the go route – you\’re in better position for that. You\’re in better position for the back shoulder fade, even though it\’s going to be to that down-field shoulder, but you can play into the receiver with that. You can give them the back shoulder fade, you just can\’t give them the go\’s and the penalties all the time.”
“A lot of times you get penalties because you\’re playing to fast and you\’re out of control,” Woodson added. “So if he can get to that little fundamental where he\’s playing on the up-field shoulder – he\’s slowing everything down in his mind – then he play like Ike Taylor should play. He has all of the skill sets to be one of the better corners in the league, and I know he\’s been in the league quite a while now, but sometimes you just get away from the fundamentals. The fundamentals is what\’s going to make you survive week in and week out and day after day, even when you\’re having a bad day as a player.”
Taylor has not gotten off to good start this season and in the game against the Tennessee Titans Thursday night he was targeted 15 times in total and allowed 8 catches to 4 different Titans receivers for a total of 126 yards and a 1 touchdown. 3 of those 15 times he was targeted he was penalized with 2 of them being accepted. It could have been an even worse night for Taylor, but Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt helped him out by dropping 2 passes in the game.
Although Taylor has denied that his confidence is shattered, he has been playing real sloppy and out of control just as Woodson suggested on Wednesday. Taylor certainly still has the speed and the skill set to get the job done, and the suggestion by Woodson to get back to the fundamentals so that the game slows back down for him is a good one.
The Steelers played a lot of cover-1 against the Titans last Thursday and Taylor said yesterday that he hasn\’t been asking for safety help and that he isn\’t looking for it either. Sunday night Taylor will likely be matched up against Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green, who has been nothing short of spectacular so far this season. Green has a huge catch radius and he fared well last season against Taylor as a rookie in the game at Heinz Field as Taylor yielded 6 catches for 87 yards and a touchdown to Green in that game.
If the Steelers don\’t give Taylor help over the top via cover-2 in this game, it could be a nightmarish result. Green is twice the receiver of any that Taylor faced Thursday night and trying to stay on the up-field shoulder of Green, like Woodson suggest, would be a tall task for Taylor even when he is playing good.