Ike Taylor Names Burns And Haden A Top 3 CB Tandem

“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.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

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

  • kdubs412

    Third overall is probably a bit high but I feel pretty confident this is the best cornerback group the Steelers have had in the twenty or so years I’ve been watching them, and it’s not particularly close.

  • StolenUpVotes

    Joe Haden has most definitely quieted my fears about him thus far

  • Mister Wirez

    Funny how Browns fans said we were getting a slow, beat-up, & over-the-hill Joe Haden. Just like their teams draft picks, they miss the mark… AGAIN!

    The Steelers DB’s as a group, will get even better as more games are played. Thanks Cleveland!

  • capehouse

    I agree. Haden has been solid and Burns is way better than most give him credit for. Kind of annoying how pessimistic the critique of Burns has been so far.

  • 6 ring circus

    Ike can be a bit of a homer, though. We’ll see what the second half holds for these two.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    Ike, no just no. Haydens age leaves him vulnerable to burners. Burns is weak vs run and has poor tackling form.

  • Marcel Chris Chauvet

    I think part of that stems from how well most of the defense is playing. He may not be playing extremely poorly, but he stands out against others that are playing very good ball. He’s definitely not playing to the level of his draft slot and that’s going to be the stick by which his play is measured.

  • francesco

    I’m thinking what our rating would have been with Cockrell and Burns?!

  • Michael Mosgrove

    Burns checks out for about five to eight plays a game, he is weak vs the run and has poor form. His criticisms have been warranted.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    20 years? Not a fan of ike? deshea?

  • Michael Mosgrove

    If you throw mike mitchell in too, he gave up about 70 yards too. We will draft a safety in round 2 or 3.

  • Marcel Chris Chauvet

    Hard to consider the opinions of someone who left Marshon Lattimore off of his top ten list valid. The saints rookie has probably been the best corner in football through the first 8 weeks of the season. Im not down on our corners. They’re better than they have been in decades. I just don’t think those two make up a top 3 CB tandem on the league. I believe Ike might be wearing his homer glasses on this one.

  • Joeybaggadonuts

    My unofficial Stiller rankings…

    1) Mel & JT or Woodruff
    2) Rod & DJ
    3) Ike & D’shea
    4) D Washington & D’shea

  • Joeybaggadonuts

    He’s 28i or 29, not old at all.

  • Joeybaggadonuts

    MM, mark the calendar. I agree with you today. If Artie stays focused, I’ll tolerate poor form. As bad as his tackling is, he’s gotten better.


    Ok I can never take Ike seriously again. He’s gone full homer.

  • Grant Humphrey

    He’s not the shut down corner he once was but he’s still a good corner

  • kdubs412

    Ike was definitely pretty darn good despite having feet for hands. My memories of Deshea are that he was pretty average. Played behind a dominant pass rush in a different era.

  • capehouse

    As long as you understand that’s your opinion. Considering our past issues in the secondary and specifically at CB I’d rather dwell on his positives.

  • Chris92021

    Deshea started for over 10 years, including for 2 Super Bowls. That’s pretty good for someone who was “average”.

  • Chris92021

    Well, Ike isn’t that far off. Who would be in your top 10 CB tandems this season? Let’s see:

    1. Denver with Chris Harris and Aqib Talib
    2. Jacksonville with Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye
    Those are definitely better than who we’ve got. But what about other groups?

    Not New England with Gilmore and Butler since Gilmore hasn’t been sharp this season and he’s injured. Maybe Houston with Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson and Kevin Johnson but they also have given up a lot of yards and TDs this season. The NY Giants with Jenkins and Apple and DRC? They are also struggling and injured and suspended (DRC earlier this season and Jenkins now). The duo in Tampa Bay with Hargreaves and Grimes? Nope. Arizona? Nope. Haden and Burns are definitely in the top 5 right now.

  • kdubs412

    Sure is. Average CBs were set up to succeed in LeBeau’s scheme. Not an indictment on him at all, he just wasn’t an exceptional talent.

  • WreckIess

    He had Haden at No. 10 last week. I don’t think that’s too far fetched, but Artie holds them back from being top 3.

  • WreckIess

    He had Haden at No. 10 last week. I don’t think that’s too far fetched, but Artie holds them back from being top 3. I think Hilton deserves more credit though. There’s a legitimate argument there that he’s better than Artie and I’d most definitely say that that’s true.

  • Chris92021

    For me personally, I don’t like the CB tandems because honestly, just about everyone plays/rotates 3 CBs. I say we are definitely in the top 5 when it comes to trios right now (not based on talent, potential, and projections but rather production):

    1. Denver with Harris, Talib, Roby.
    2. Jacksonville with Ramsey, Bouye, Colvin.
    3. Pittsburgh with Haden, Burns, Hilton.
    4. Cincinnati with Kirkpatrick, Dennard, Jackson III.
    5. Philadelphia with Robinson, Douglas, Mills (Darby out with injury)
    6. Minnesota with Rhodes, Waynes, Newman.
    7. Baltimore with Smith, Carr, Humphrey.
    8. Seattle with Sherman, Griffin, Coleman.

    New England with Gilmore, Butler, and Bademosi have struggled with injuries and poor play. The Giants with DRC, Jenkins, and Apple have reflected the 2017 Giants. Just awful.

    Now most of us might not put the Steelers up at 3rd but we are definitely in the top 5-8 of the CB trios. If Burns can carry out his assignments to the fullest in the 2nd half of the season, we could be in the top spot.

  • Zenyatta

    Does prefering Haden and Burns mean you can’t be a fan of Ike and Deshea?

  • John Noh

    I don’t know about top 3 but you could have made a strong argument that Cockrell and a rookie Burns comprised a bottom 3 tandem.

  • Gautama Om

    I’d disagree a little bit with us at #3 since part of their success is due to the resurgence of the Steelers pass pressure. If we had mediocre/poor pass pressure like we’ve had in past years this group can be lit up by opposing offenses.

    However, this DB group is still improving because they’ve only played 8 games together so top 3 (at least top 5) is realistic by the END of the season, when it matters most.

  • Rocksolid20

    Mel B. & JT in my years as a

  • Tom McConnell

    Deshea was above average & (I’m sure someone will disagree) similar to Cockrell. Cockrell would have done better in an LeBeau secondary. The pass rush mentioned below, definitely the reason.

    Always wished Ike had better hands. He always covered the best & limited the damage.

  • Matthew Marczi

    It is true that he has frequently skewed homer. He’d probably admit that himself. And yeah, I don’t know about top three…top 10, sure…I’d have to think long and hard about top five.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Yeah, it would be interesting to see a ranking that includes the nickel backs, who very frequently go overlooked in these conversations. I mean, they’re pretty darn important players these days.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Well, Talib and Harris kind of get a bump with Denver’s pass rush, no? It’s just the way it works.

  • blue

    Best CB tandem Steelers ever had. 2 first round picks.

  • Chris92021

    Absolutely. Every decent NFL CB can cover relatively well for about 3 seconds. The great ones can do it for 3.5-4 seconds. After 4 seconds, just about every CB is an ordinary human being.

  • gdeuce

    who is Hayden?

  • Dewayne Braxton

    When I evaluate Burns I remember that was neither a high first round draft pick, nor the Steeler’s preferred choice. However he was the best corner available. I think fans who are down on Burns have forgotten about former starter’s Cortez Allen, Brice McCain, Antown Blake, Will Gay, and Ross Cockrell. People can criticize Burns but for the Steeler’s sake I hope he does not get hurt. If he does his value will go up and so will the passing yards and TD’s scored against us. Sure there is no question Burn’s tackling is horrible. That said, he was drafted to be an All Pro caliber but a solid cover corner. IMO so far in only his second season Burns is doing a pretty good job.

  • melblount

    Seriously? “Ever” is a long time that includes the years the greatest CB of all-time and one of the other greatest CBs of all time played for the Steelers.

    Take #47 and ANY of the CBs he played with, and ANY of those tandems are better than Haden and Burns.

    Start with either of two tandems that EACH won TWO SBs, Mel and JT Thomas, or Mel and Ron Johnson. Note that Mel and JT were also the starting CBs in 1976, the year most Steelers of the 70’s point to as their best team ever, which of course makes it arguably the NFL’s best team ever.

    Same argument for #26 sans the SB W’s. Start with Rod and Dwayne Woodruff, or Rod and DJ Johnson.

  • SilverSteel

    Yeah Burns is just getting targeted more. Last year Cockrell was getting picked on. They got to throw it somewhere! Burns will get passed this. He is after all still super young.

  • SilverSteel

    And yet he still is a good corner. He does have flaws but I’ll take him over the parade of bottom dwellers we marched out there for 5 years.

  • SilverSteel

    Yep, he’s learning. For a second year guy, no complaints here for sure!

  • SilverSteel

    Being 50, I would have a hard time calling anyone in their 20s, aged. He ran with DHB in practice. That has to count for something. He has 3 more years easy.

  • SilverSteel

    I like our trio of DBs. Hilton kinda adds that X factor. I tip my hat to the coaches for pulling this D together at the end of pre season. Pretty impressed.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    I’m not saying he isn’t fast but his reaction time is slower than it used to be.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    I wouldn’t say 5 years. Maybe 3. Troy Ryan and ike were all still here 5 years ago. Missing out on Eric weddle hurt our secondary.

  • SilverSteel

    I’m just super stoked about having an adequate secondary. What a security blanket it must be for the offense.