Cortez Allen Threatened With Demotion After Poor Outing

By Matthew Marczi

Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Cortez Allen entered the 2013 season targeted as a player ‘on the ascent’, both within the organization and on the outside, perceived as a possible breakout player after a supposed explosion of turnovers late last season that was taken as a clear sign of the next Charles Tillman.

To me, that was never why the team was so readily willing to part ways with Keenan Lewis in order to hand the reigns over to Allen, even though the defense has been starving for turnovers the last few years. Rather, it was because he never blew an assignment and was always a sure tackler.

In his first two seasons, in over 600 total snaps, Allen only missed five tackles while making 55. Yet coming off an ankle injury, the third-year cornerback missed three tackles—four if you count the diving attempt on Greg Jennings near the goal line—against the Minnesota Vikings. A recap, for your viewing pleasure:

Third and three. A simple pattern for a first down turns into a 70-yard touchdown because Allen overcommits outside, allowing Jennings to turn inside. Not that the rest of the defense helped much. Allen at least shows the hustle to miss another tackle at the end of the play.


First and 10, Steelers now down three early in the third quarter.  Allen is isolated one-on-one with Jerome Simpson, who outmaneuvers him inside and then stiff-arms him for about an extra eight yards.


Early fourth quarter. This is essentially the same play that Jennings turned into a touchdown in the first quarter. This time Allen gets a somewhat better angle, but Simpson turns outside rather than inside and swims under the tackle attempt for a first down that need not have been.

The Steelers are making sure to point out to Allen that William Gay has played well in a starting role during the two-and-a-half games that he has missed.

In yesterday’s practice, the Steelers had Gay running the first team outside corner instead of Allen. When asked, Gay answered that he was “just stepping in”, saying that “Cortez is dealing with an injury issue”.

Yet, as Jim Wexell writes, Allen was not so injured that he could not play the nickel in that very same practice. Make no mistake that this is a message to Allen that he must play better. But don’t be surprised if that message carries on into next week, with Allen resuming his nickel role from a season ago until the team feels he can be trusted again on an every-down basis.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    The guy has been injured lets cut him some slack. The way he played was unacceptable but we could have eased him in the lineup better than what we did.

  • dollardoughtnut

    should have found a way to keep lewis

  • GunsDontKillWoodleyKills

    Is Clark being threatened with demotion too? whats his excuse? He’s played just as bad all year and runs his mouth to top it off. Let’s see how Lewis plays now that he has a few weeks back from being injured.

  • John Hinton

    Excellent comment on Clark. Thomas or Golden should get the start this Sunday in his place.

  • Mike Carroll

    Cortez was probably the biggest disappointment of any single player last week. At least he fully acknowledged his poor play after the game and apologized for his game. I still have confidence in him and expect him to play much better, but I agree with starting Gay ahead of him this week.

  • Dr. Doom

    They are 0-4 no time to cut slack

  • Dr. Doom

    What makes you so sure he didn’t want to go home, If you were a NFL player on another team and the team in your home city offered you the same contract, you would go home too.

  • dkoy85

    I saw a comment from somebody on a different article that Shark is going to get more snaps in place of Clark. If that’s true, then there is the message. I really hope it is true because we need some spark!

  • Fritz Baughman

    In the first video – why in the HOLY %&#& is Allen giving his receiver a ten yard cushions on 3rd and 3? Absolutely inexcusable stupidity, from the top down. What the hell happened to this team?

  • CrazyTerry

    We can live with his mistakes if he can make turnovers . But he is injury prone, so he is worth a starter spot only if he can excel . Let’s see how the year turns out.

  • treeher

    I may be wrong, but wasn’t Allen’s success last year from his nickel role?

  • Mike Popovich

    …and not Mike Adams?

  • Mike Popovich

    He was the primary nickle, but no, he had a lot of success in camp last year. Forced Keenan Lewis back from injury because Allen threatened to take the 2nd CB. Found a lot of success last year towards the end of the season when Ike was out. He has a lot of potential, but hes been out a lot this season so far. I account the Vikings game more to being rusty and having a bad game.

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    Agree. Tomlin’s “doghouse” effect hasn’t worked I don’t get why they do this. I get the desperate mode, but you don’t go desperate if it’ll spur their progressions. We might be seeing some of players’ career tanked because of how our coachign staffs treat the players.

  • cencalsteeler

    There is WAY too much space between Allen and the receiver he covers.

  • Virdin Barzey

    Agreed. Maybe that’s why they brought back Will Allen? LOL

  • Virdin Barzey

    I’m not blaming it on the injury. If he was that injured, he shouldn’t be on the field. He had a bad game just coming back. He wasn’t the only one. Hopefully he rights the ship but he needs an opportunity to do so not to bench him. If he’s not 100% healthy then he has no business in the Jets game.

  • Mike Carroll

    Adams was terrible, but his play was not a surprise.

  • Mike Carroll

    Good players don’t need to be coddled by the coaches. They find a way to get on the field and stay on the field and play well. Cortez is a good player and I expect him to do just that. But, Gay was playing well enough before so I have no problem starting him this week. Make Cortez put in a good effort at nickel before putting him back at starter.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    He may have wanted to go home. But if you offer him an extension (a couple years before FA) and show him you WANT him here, he’s going to take it.

    Lewis made a comment that the Steelers should’ve extended him earlier. (That by waiting it’s going to cost more). That would indicate he was open to an extension a couple years back. When you wait until the last minute, people start hearing/considering other offers.

    A lot of this is on Tomlin and his doghouse mentality. And Colbert with his spending spree on old veterans.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    He doesn’t seem to be consistant and that is what I want to see.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I think he should have been the nickle back to start with then the next week depending on his play let him start especially the way Gay has played. It is hard to get up to game speed, travel across the world and be a star all at once.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    You can practice all you want to but you cannot simulate a real game. After being injured sometimes it takes a game or 2 to keep your football feet in the ground.

  • joed32

    Problem was that he hadn’t shown anything until last year, nothing.

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    I understand and normally would agree with letting Willie Gay and all. I’m fine with benching good players but we are looking dow 0-4. As a former junior scout I’ll tell you that when a coach draw up a gameplan, he always want to minimizing the game margin and mistakes. Cortez might be making a mistake but it WAS one game.

    The problem I have with this is most important of all; we are 0-4 and benching the good/better players. I hope somebody agree with me, I know I could be just forcing an issue but I just… I wouldn’t do that if I were the coach. That’s all.

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    And even so, he failed to record an interception. That’s not to say it is the most important thing but… even Ike Taylor had interceptions AND Cortez Allen produced in much less snaps. Steelers were looking from outside because we were a playoff team who just missed playoff, we were going to get better. It didn’t happen.

  • Dr. Doom

    How do you know they did not rebuff an offer from the Steelers. He and his agent told their side, and Tomlin does not do contract negotiations, neither does Colbert. Omar Khan Does. So right there defeats your point, Colbert does not do contract negotiations, he may sit in on them but he does not do them. And what aged veteran has received a contract this year? Name one I will wait

  • Dr. Doom

    The defense calls for him to do that, ask Lebeau

  • charles

    It is only one game. Consistentcy hard to define. However a lot of people are going to be watching closely. Personally, I think that Cortez was not ready for game speed. I expect next game performance will step up. If the rookie in NY burns him and the Steelers go 0-5 the bells could be tolling for him real loudly though……..

  • Matthew Marczi

    It’s not an every down thing, but it did seem like he had more off-coverage snaps coming off the injury. It’s not about how close or far you are though, it’s how quick you are to react. Look at the second play, for example. If he makes the tackle, it’s a one-yard gain.

  • Matthew Marczi

    He had success in the nickel, yes, but he finished the season starting due to Taylor’s injury, and that’s when he had his little spurt of turnovers during the last two games, which is supposedly why the team got so high on him.

  • cencalsteeler

    That’s just it. He is so far away from the receiver, the receiver has time to adjust and outjuke Allen. If he’s on his hip, there is no room for him to juke. The second play is the same. He is five-7 yards deep. A db should not allow that much separation, he should “blanket” his receiver. If he cant break up the catch, he should be tackling as soon as it’s caught. That added separation is allowing the YAC.

  • Ahmad

    I didn’t want to ruin my good mood so forgive me for not watching the horror show. Anyway, I think it’s good Gay is taking starter snaps from Allen. Allen played the worst game of his career and while he is coming off an injury, he shouldn’t really be given a pass. Hopefully this will motivate him to perform better.

  • walter mason

    He was in the doghouse too long

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I do not disagree. I just thought we should have him work his way into game speed. Allen does play nickle as well as Gay has.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I was talking consistency with Tomlin. I know that Allen would be rusty.

  • Riverstko

    Allen is not starting material, but i would like to see him play slot though.

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    Agree. It is the Jets we are playing against after all, no question Ike Taylor will cover Stephen Hill but its a question of whether Santonio Holmes will play or not. If he does, it is a problem with or without Cortez Allen.