Highlights and Lowlights For Ike Taylor In The Black Hole

By Matthew Marczi

Even though Ike Taylor has not surrendered a touchdown yet during the 2013 season, the veteran cornerback is not having one of his most consistent seasons for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Through seven games, he has surrendered 30 receptions on 46 targets, or nearly two-thirds of the time he is targeted.

This past week, Taylor was targeted seven times by Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor, and, as with much of the season, the results were a mixed bag. On the day, he gave up four receptions for a total of 54 yards. He deflected one of those passes, but three of those receptions were good for third-down conversions.

The first of those receptions came on the Raiders’ third drive of the first quarter. On third and ten, Taylor lined up across from wide receiver Denarius Moore.

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Taylor was in tight coverage on the line, but Moore beat him quite readily on an inside move and quickly gained separation, which allowed Pryor to find him for a 14-yard gain. The fact that Moore ran the exact same route on the play earlier, with Taylor in the same coverage, adds a bit to the frustration.

Early in the second quarter, the Raiders were facing third and six on their own 25 when they threw a bunch formation at the secondary.

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Rod Streater was the inside receiver along the line, and despite Troy Polamalu blitzing and flushing the quarterback out of the pocket, Streater’s comeback route in front of Taylor gave Pryor an outlet to convert the first down.

Later in the game, there was a sequence widely commented upon in which Taylor gave up another reception on a long third down to Denarius Moore, but he followed it up on the next play by dropping Pryor for a loss behind the line of scrimmage on a carry. That was not the only time that he bottled Pryor up, however.

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Midway through the third quarter, Pryor attempted to run with the ball, but Taylor was on it right away, and he was able to trip him up after just a short gain to set up third and long, in which he also had a hand.

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This was a much more preferable sequence of plays for Taylor than the one previously mentioned. His coverage here is tight, and he reads the receiver to know when to turn around. It was perhaps the highlight of his up-and-down evening.

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

    The last one is the one that drives me up a wall. The WR stops and turns, but Ike stops and puts his hands on the guy’s arms. Rarely do they call that interference. OK, another pass defenced. But if he turns his head and looks towards the ball, he is actually in front of the defender, staring at an easy Interception.

    I have made this point before. Even earlier today on the JJ article. If the Steeler CB’s would just occasionally go for the INT, they could get a crapload. They are good enough.

    When I watch other defenses, even Miami last night, you see this much more often. Don’t get me wrong. I am not talking about gambling on every play, thus getting burned for countless TD’s. No, no. But once in a while, those easy picks are there.

    Now imagine the day in the future when they get sustained pressure on the QB like the old days!

  • http://www.nyob.com/ Dr. Doom

    Ike, man it might be time well its time to move on this off season.

  • edrabs

    On both of the 2 completions you showed, we were rushing 5 guys, and our secondary wasn’t playing tight coverage. Neither of these should be considered “lowlights” for Ike.

    On the first, Ike refused to give up the sideline, indicating that he was giving up the inside to a zone defense. Additionally, he doesn’t open up his hips for Man coverage. Had Ike been in Man coverage, he would have given up the sideline, as the WR tried twice to get it from him. After that he would have shadowed him. Instead, Clark rotates over, and tackles him, as planned.

    On the second, Ike lines up 15 yards off the LOS, nowhere near a tight man structure. His primary objective at this point is to not let the receiver get behind him.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    For his age he is still very competitive but you can see he is having problems with the quick receivers. He stats are still quite good since he has been taking on some very talented guys this year. In the end keep them out of the end zone and you should win.

  • Riverstko

    SO TRUE!

  • Riverstko

    Ike may not give up td but his gives up key 1st downs that end up in opp. scores.

  • Jefferson_St_Joe

    The plays Ike didn’t make very well could have changed this game. At his pay rate, on this team, he has to stop a couple of those conversions. On those plays, the defense is designed for him to win his match up. He didn’t and consequently the Steelers did not win the game.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Giving up long receptions on third downs are lowlights. And they are clearly in man coverage on the first completion if you take the time to watch the gif and see how the defense is aligned and how the players react. As I mentioned, the played the same look the down prior to this, but Ike’s coverage here was worse.

    Funny, usually I’m the one being accused of being an apologist for the team, and now I’m getting called out for pointing out that Ike gave up three receptions on third down.

  • edrabs

    No, he is clearly in zone. The last video you posted shows textbook man coverage, as he opens up his hips, and lets him go outside, and trails closely. In the first video, his hips protect the outside, and he funnels the receiver inside towards Clark’s zone. Had he been in man coverage as you say, it would have looked exactly like the last video.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Think what you want, it’s not my concern.

  • edrabs

    Kind of a weird stance to take.

    I feel like in the event that you are wrong, you should be concerned.

  • Matthew Marczi

    The Steelers play in a deep shell when they play man coverage, as on this play. Taylor is most certainly not passing off coverage to a safety 20 yards off the line of scrimmage on a third and ten play. Whether he is in man or zone, Moore is his responsibility regardless, and Moore beats him by swatting his arm away for a third-down conversion, leaving him to take a wide angle just to be in position to bring him down.

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    I been saying ike is mainly responsible for numerous third down conversions even asked dave bryan to research ike and third downs over twenty posts ago but thanks for this post i rest my case

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    Agreed one hundred %

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    I’ve been screaming this for some time now some fans tried to tell different like ike is great cuz he defends top wr week in week out hello thats his job he gets top dollar for that and never turns his head to find the ball good to see some fans finally seeing the light

  • bonairsfavoriteson

    YOU GOT THIS ONE RIGHT MATT.

  • edrabs

    Ok, if the steelers play in a deep shell on man plays, what do you call that last video then? You say that passing a receiver off to a safety sounds crazy, but then in the same article blame Ike for a reception when he lines up 15 yards off the LOS.

    When the steelers rush 5 guys, the secondary shifts into looser coverage which allows a reception if the quarterback who presumably is under pressure makes a precise pass. You can see that philosophy in action in both of your “lowlight” videos. The number 1 objective is to not give up the big play.

  • charles

    Pressure on the qb not gambling on the coverage gets the results you (and everybody else) would like to see.

  • charles

    One thing to add is that with the NFL’s fewest sacks and fewest pressures the secondaries job is tenfold more difficult.

  • cencalsteeler

    Edrabs. I welcome you to take your eyes off of Ike’s hips in the first gif and look to the other side of the field. It is clearly man coverage.

  • edrabs

    The left side has no safety help over the top, and is in man coverage. However, explain to me why Ike’s stance is outside the WR before the ball is hiked? It’s because his job is to funnel the WR towards Clark. Clark rotates over immediately.

    90% of the coverage is given away right after the ball is snapped from the way the CB lines up and the way his hips attack the play right at the onset.

  • Moneypenny76

    Restructuring his contract was a huge mistake. The last two seasons I have noticed a drop off in his play. I am truly worried about how he will perform next year…there is no reason to think he will be any better.

  • cencalsteeler

    Clark is simply reading the qb. The quick throw is to the receiver Ike is covering, so Clark responds. Nothing is being funneled to Clark, the receivers route is predetermined. If the receiver runs a ten yard curl, how is Ike supposed to funnel him towards Clark? Ike takes an outside stance on the play so he can keep an eye on the qb while backpeddling. If he takes an inside stance, he is facing away from the qb and will probably get turned around causing even more separation between he and the receiver.

  • edrabs

    Clark is already outside the hash marks by the time the ball reaches Pryor in a shotgun snap. There wasn’t any reading the qb going on there. He may have been reading the qb to determine whether to cover the X or slot receiver, but he was fully committed to that area of the field.

    Maybe 15 years ago the receiver’s route was predetermined, but in this modern day, the WR reads the CB’s stance and position, and runs the predetermined route for that specific coverage. Without a doubt on an X receiver such as Moore.

    Your stance on “keeping an eye on the QB” is absolutely that of a zone coverage by the way. Does Ike look like he is keeping an eye on the QB in the last video? Nope…because he is in full on Man coverage.

  • cencalsteeler

    By your own admission, you state the other side is in man. So, you think Ikes side is in zone? It doesn’t work that way. Clark is CLEARLY reading the qb. Pryor looks his receiver the entire way.
    I’m sorry, but your comments have no justification. Players do not run routes based on how a corner lines up. A qb may come up to the line and see something and make a call adjustment, but the routes are called in the huddle. I don’t mean to offend you, but you are clearly lost when it comes to defensive schemes and disguises. A good book may help you, good luck!

  • edrabs

    Go to google, and search for “route adjustment wide receiver”, and click on the first article that comes up titled “On Option Routes, Sight Adjustments, Hot Routes, & the
    Complexities of NFL Offenses”

    Pat Kirwin breaks it down really well in his book as well if you’re interested.

  • cencalsteeler

    I am actually very familiar with route adjustment and option routes. That is why I said a qb may come up to the line and see something and make an audible. Some qbs and receivers are on the same page and go to the hot route. The problem with this is when the qb and the receiver are not on the same page, bad results happen. Players are guessing what they are thinking. Now, based on our original conversation, the same can be said for the defense. Corners can bluff and line up to disguise their coverage. The question lies, maybe you got tricked? You say the other side was in man, so how can Ike’s side be in zone?

  • edrabs

    Clark was playing relatively close over the top for both the slot receiver and the X receiver but most attention being paid to the X and knowing full well that Ike wasn’t going to give up the sideline route. The left side of the field had no over the top help. Most likely Ike was to refuse Moore the sideline with the intention that Clark was to pick him up immediately, most likely leaving Sharmarko alone to pick up the slot, which is why he lined up so far off the receiver to begin with.

  • cencalsteeler

    Clark was favoring that half because Troy was responsible for the other half. Troy was up front being Troy, but as the ball was hiked, you can see him running to his coverage side. The quick pass was thrown, so he went to where the ball was. Go back to the gif and watch Troy. He and Clark split the field, but Troy was at the line faking the blitz.

  • edrabs

    Both DBs on the left side were deeper than Troy. They had no over the top help. Troy was running to cover the Tight end.

  • cencalsteeler

    A ha ha ha. I tricked you!! And you bit!!!! Both dbs on the left, by your own admission, were in man. Now, by your own admission, state Troy was covering the te (which is man). So, Mr. Obvious, what coverage would that make Ike be in? Before you answer, remember Ryan Clark is a FREE safety, which means he roams free back there as a safety net. So, if two of the three dbs are in man and the strong safety is in man, what is Ike in?

  • edrabs

    I don’t know where you got it in your mind that if the left is in man coverage, the right can’t be something different. Ike dictates the WR’s play at the LOS, and given that early bump, and outside position refusing the sideline route, he can’t possibly play him on a close inside slant. This is the same deal that the Steelers do against AJ Green. Ike gets the WR at the line, and gets early help over the top from Clark.

  • edrabs

    At the end of the day, Pryor makes a quick slant pass in under 2 seconds to a WR running an inside slant vs a CB lined up on his outside shoulder. There’s not a CB in the league that is going to stop that pass given that positioning and situation. Now maybe Revis or Peterson lines up the WR straight up, but that wasn’t the situation. This was a designed play to double team the X, and he caught the pass in between Ike and Clark. Hats off to Pryor for making the necessary play, because he was about to get destroyed if he didn’t do it.

  • cencalsteeler

    Sorry, but your comments are justifying the fact that you need to educate yourself a little more on defensive schemes. Clearly man to man cover 1.

  • edrabs

    A Cover 1 safety plays center field, not outside the hash marks as the qb gets the ball from shotgun.

  • cencalsteeler

    I am trying to patient with you, my friend. Look at where the ball is placed. It is not in the center of the field. Pryor and Clark are both in the same spots, on the edge of the hash mark.

  • edrabs

    Yes, however Clark is running left even before Pryor pulls the ball back into a throwing motion. He is running directly away from every other receiver before Pryor pulls the ball back to throw. 2 WRs on the left are miles away, and the slot is running to the left. Meanwhile Clark is running diagonally toward the sideline…There can literally only be 1 guy hes guarding.

  • cencalsteeler

    As soon as Pryor gets the ball in his hands, look at his helmet and where he is looking. Clark is reacting by reading the qb. (you even state Pryor makes the pass in under 2 seconds)
    Now, by you suggesting Clark is double teaming with Ike, but is 15-20 yards off of the ball, is ridiculous.

  • cencalsteeler

    Maybe Pryor saw Ike line up on his outside shoulder and called for a “hot route”?
    And lets consider your theory. Ike and Clark are double teaming this x receiver. But, there is 15-20 yards separating the two defenders. So, Pryor throws to the double team and completes the pass in between both Ike and Clark. All of this, while the rest of the coverage is in man coverage. Hmmmmmm…… and all of this time I thought LeBeau was a defensive genius.

  • cencalsteeler

    “Hey Ryan. I want you to line up 15-20 yards back in the back field. When the ball is hiked, run like hell up to help double team the X receiver with Ike. But, watch out! If he runs a deep route, you are going to have to slam on the brakes, turn around as fast as you can and cover him deep so you don’t get beat. Got it? Now, lets get out there and show em how it’s done.” – LeBeau, NOT!!!!!!

  • edrabs

    Uh, yeah, that’s a pretty good guess for what happened, except he didn’t have to call for it to happen, as it was likely built into Moore’s route already.

    Hey man, good on Pryor, he made a good read and a precise pass. You can’t defend every angle, and had he missed it, he would have gotten destroyed. We took a risk rushing 5, and Pryor countered.

  • edrabs

    Uh, then where is Clark running towards before Pryor pulls the ball back.

    Lol, I can’t tell if you are trolling me here. If you are then bravo. If not, then your confidence despite all the contrary evidence is inspiring.