When Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Cortez Allen returned to the starting lineup several weeks ago, the coaching staff decided to stop having fellow starter Ike Taylor switch sides during games in an attempt to follow the oppositions top receiving threat around the field. On Thursday, defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau revealed the reason why that decision was made.
"We just wanted to settle the defense down," LeBeau said. "We didn’t think that we were playing anywhere near our capability and we thought that might help settle us down, and I think to some extent it has, so we've stayed with that formula."
On Sunday, the Steelers will again face Cleveland Browns second-year wide receiver Josh Gordon, who has 80 receptions for 1,564 yards and nine touchdowns on the season. Back in Week 12, Gordon torched the Steelers defense to the tune of 14 catches for 237 yards and a touchdown with nine of those catches coming against Taylor.
This time around, the Steelers will make sure to know where Gordon lines up on each and every play, but LeBeau indicated on Thursday that he won't be shadowed by one player specifically.
"We don't know where they're going to send him," said LeBeau of Gordon. "But we're going to try to identify him once he gets there."
It's hard to know exactly how the Steelers will try to defend Gordon this time around, but one would think that either Taylor or Allen would receive a little more help over the top in this game from a safety. While they aren't likely to shut him down completely, they must limit his amount of explosive plays of 20 yards or more. Gordon leads the league with 28 explosive play receptions and eight of those resulted in touchdowns.
"We'll try to locate the guy that's hot, which is obviously No. 12 (Gordon), and make sure we know where he is," said LeBeau. "A lot of people have tried to do that, but he's leading the league in yardage."