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fordfixer
01-28-2011, 01:44 AM
Steelers' secondary looking for respect
By Scott Brown, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Friday, January 28, 2011
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 20217.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_720217.html)

A secondary that helped the Steelers record their most interceptions since 1996 and finish in the top half of the league in pass defense can hardly be described as under siege.

Just don't tell that to cornerback Ike Taylor. Or free safety Ryan Clark.

Taylor took issue with what he perceived were shots at the Steelers secondary earlier this week. Clark later weighed in on the unit that will be on the spot Feb. 6 in Super Bowl XLV when it tries to slow down Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his deep receiving corps. That's the same quarterback who torched the Steelers defense for 383 yards passing and three touchdowns in a 37-36 loss last year at Heinz Field.

"I'm done being disrespected. I'm done even caring. It's my second Super Bowl with this defense and the exact same guys minus Deshea (Townsend)," Clark said. "Maybe the other six or seven (defensive players) on the field with us are that much better than everyone else that they can overcome us being so terrible.

"Or maybe we're all right."

The Steelers allowed the fewest pass plays of 20 or more yards this season (35), and the secondary accounted for 14 of the team's 21 interceptions.

A couple of weeks ago they suffocated the Ravens' aerial attack, allowing 36 yards to Baltimore's wideouts in an AFC divisional playoff game. Clark, meanwhile, keyed the 31-24 victory with a forced fumble and interception that allowed the Steelers to erase a 14-point halftime deficit.

Yet what drew the attention of the Steelers defensive backs were postgame write-ups that pointed out All-Pro safety Troy Polamalu missing a tackle on Ray Rice's 14-yard touchdown run.

"It wasn't the linebackers missing a tackle. It was Troy missing a tackle," Taylor said. "As secondary players, we always say we're the last line of defense. Regardless of what the front seven do, we're going to always get ridiculed."

That is among the occupational hazards. Having skin thicker than armor is as much a prerequisite for playing defensive back as speed and athleticism.

That reality was reinforced here last season when the Steelers' secondary was scorched during and after a stunning 27-24 loss to the lowly Oakland Raiders at Heinz Field.

Clark fired back at reporters a couple of weeks later, calling them "turds."

One of the most talkative Steelers, Clark may also be the perfect spokesman for a secondary that sometimes feels unappreciated outside of team headquarters.

Clark went undrafted out of LSU and is playing for this third NFL team.

He is also playing alongside one of the best safeties in the NFL for a second time, having done so with the late Sean Taylor in Washington in 2004-05.

"He likes to be the underdog, the forgotten guy, the red-headed stepchild, that whatever you want to call him," Steelers defensive backs coach Ray Horton said of Clark. "He's a guy with a lot of pride. We know how good he is. I guess he's kind of, 'Hey, there's another guy here that can also play.' "

The Steelers are aware that the same is true of Rodgers.

Clark has lavished praise on Rodgers this week, calling Brett Favre's successor the hottest quarterback in the postseason.

But he and Taylor also have made it clear the Steelers don't exactly have Mo, Larry and Curly playing with Polamalu in their defensive backfield.

They'll get a chance to prove their worth on one of the biggest stages.

The Packers threw the ball 56.2 percent of the time during the regular season. They figure to go to the air early and often against a defense on which it is nearly impossible to run.

"We told our guys, 'Don't make any mistakes about it. This is a throwing team,' " Horton said. "The challenge goes right to those (secondary) guys, and I'll take them against anybody."

So will Clark.

"Right now this group of individuals can say they've started two Super Bowls, some three Super Bowls together," he said. "Go around the league and poll how many secondaries have done that. There's not going to be many, if any, that can say that, so I think we're doing all right."

Read more: Steelers' secondary looking for respect - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... z1CJ1s73sq (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_720217.html#ixzz1CJ1s73sq)

Oviedo
01-28-2011, 10:01 AM
I hope they prove they deserve that respect but I'm not optimistic as I still believe they are the weak link on the team. If the front seven don't get to the QB they get exposed with great ease.

Mister Pittsburgh
01-28-2011, 10:26 AM
Respect has to be earned and they have a shot to earn it next Sunday. I mean, how much can you complain that people say you aren't that good when you got torched multiple times last season to give up leads, you got torched last Superbowl to give up the lead, you got torched against the Jets to give back some of the lead, and you got torched for 36 points last time you played the team we are facing in the Superbowl.

It appears that they shut down the Ravens WR but the Ravens WR totally crapped the bed and dropped multiple huge passes like Boldin in the freaking endzone and Doushyourmamma on the 1st down that would of kept their final drive alive.

If you ask me to point out the weak link on our defense I will most certainly say our secondary without a thought. Troy being injured and somewhat invisible this playoff run doesn't make me think even more highly of this unit. Not sure I would hang my hat on not giving up plays more than 20 yards when you have to give a 15 yard cushion to acheive this and teams with good offensive lines can methodically move the ball right down the field on you.

But like I said, quit talking about wanting respect, and go earn it.

Oviedo
01-28-2011, 11:03 AM
Respect has to be earned and they have a shot to earn it next Sunday. I mean, how much can you complain that people say you aren't that good when you got torched multiple times last season to give up leads, you got torched last Superbowl to give up the lead, you got torched against the Jets to give back some of the lead, and you got torched for 36 points last time you played the team we are facing in the Superbowl.

It appears that they shut down the Ravens WR but the Ravens WR totally crapped the bed and dropped multiple huge passes like Boldin in the freaking endzone and Doushyourmamma on the 1st down that would of kept their final drive alive.

If you ask me to point out the weak link on our defense I will most certainly say our secondary without a thought. Troy being injured and somewhat invisible this playoff run doesn't make me think even more highly of this unit. Not sure I would hang my hat on not giving up plays more than 20 yards when you have to give a 15 yard cushion to acheive this and teams with good offensive lines can methodically move the ball right down the field on you.

But like I said, quit talking about wanting respect, and go earn it.

:Bow :Bow :Bow :Bow Well said.

Unfortunately I fear they will just prove why we need to draft another CB in Round 1 in the next draft.

steelblood
01-28-2011, 12:06 PM
Respect has to be earned and they have a shot to earn it next Sunday. I mean, how much can you complain that people say you aren't that good when you got torched multiple times last season to give up leads, you got torched last Superbowl to give up the lead, you got torched against the Jets to give back some of the lead, and you got torched for 36 points last time you played the team we are facing in the Superbowl.

It appears that they shut down the Ravens WR but the Ravens WR totally crapped the bed and dropped multiple huge passes like Boldin in the freaking endzone and Doushyourmamma on the 1st down that would of kept their final drive alive.

If you ask me to point out the weak link on our defense I will most certainly say our secondary without a thought. Troy being injured and somewhat invisible this playoff run doesn't make me think even more highly of this unit. Not sure I would hang my hat on not giving up plays more than 20 yards when you have to give a 15 yard cushion to acheive this and teams with good offensive lines can methodically move the ball right down the field on you.

But like I said, quit talking about wanting respect, and go earn it.

:Bow :Bow :Bow :Bow Well said.

Unfortunately I fear they will just prove why we need to draft another CB in Round 1 in the next draft.

I agree with the general sentiment. Our CBs and CB depth are the weakest part of our defense. However, beating the spread and the Packers has as much if not more to do with pressure and coverage scheme than it does corner play. If we play off man (or a conservative zone) and leave the short seams open as we often do, we'll be dismantled and it will be a very ugly game. And, it won't be the CBs fault. They'll be helpless.

NWNewell
01-28-2011, 12:55 PM
I agree.... that Clark is good, Ike is very good, and Troy is great. Our secondary as a whole is not bad.

But the problem is that the Packers WR core is so deep that BMac and Gay are going to have tough match ups!

Our success hinges on those two and our front sevens ability to get pressure before they are exploited.

i do think that the biggest advantage that either team has is Green Bay's WR core vs our secondary. I don't mean that to be as slight against our secondary as much as I do a statement of how evenly matched I think these two teams are.

Mister Pittsburgh
01-28-2011, 05:03 PM
Respect has to be earned and they have a shot to earn it next Sunday. I mean, how much can you complain that people say you aren't that good when you got torched multiple times last season to give up leads, you got torched last Superbowl to give up the lead, you got torched against the Jets to give back some of the lead, and you got torched for 36 points last time you played the team we are facing in the Superbowl.

It appears that they shut down the Ravens WR but the Ravens WR totally crapped the bed and dropped multiple huge passes like Boldin in the freaking endzone and Doushyourmamma on the 1st down that would of kept their final drive alive.

If you ask me to point out the weak link on our defense I will most certainly say our secondary without a thought. Troy being injured and somewhat invisible this playoff run doesn't make me think even more highly of this unit. Not sure I would hang my hat on not giving up plays more than 20 yards when you have to give a 15 yard cushion to acheive this and teams with good offensive lines can methodically move the ball right down the field on you.

But like I said, quit talking about wanting respect, and go earn it.

:Bow :Bow :Bow :Bow Well said.

Unfortunately I fear they will just prove why we need to draft another CB in Round 1 in the next draft.

I agree with the general sentiment. Our CBs and CB depth are the weakest part of our defense. However, beating the spread and the Packers has as much if not more to do with pressure and coverage scheme than it does corner play. If we play off man (or a conservative zone) and leave the short seams open as we often do, we'll be dismantled and it will be a very ugly game. And, it won't be the CBs fault. They'll be helpless.

If you look at the Jets-Pats game though, most those sacks were coverage sacks where Brady had to stand there trying to find an open receiver. The dude is a statue, where Rodgers can run, but the secondary can definately help us get to Rodgers by doing a good job and actually being in the picture instead of falling down (Ike). How many TD's has Ike given up in his career due to falling down when the WR makes a cut. I remember he got benched by Cowher for falling down and getting torched vs. Denver. Lets hope he doesn't fall down on the turf in Dallas.

Anyway, the secondary can help the LB's get to the QB by good coverage just as much as the LB's can make the secondary look good, if not more. The secondary players aren't being held half the plays.

hawaiiansteel
01-30-2011, 03:09 PM
Steelers' secondary faces 'big challenge'

Rodgers has many talented options in Packers' receiving corps

Sunday, January 30, 2011


These Steelers probably have faced better quarterbacks than Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers.

And they surely have faced better individual receivers than anyone on the Packers' roster.

But add it all up?

"They have a more talented group than most," safety Ryan Clark said. "If you mention Tom Brady and you compare Green Bay's group to the one in New England, Green Bay wins by a landslide."

"It's probably the best receiving corps in the league," the other safety, Troy Polamalu, said. "And, when you have Rodgers there, too ... we're going to have a tough challenge."

It might be the singular challenge that defines Super Bowl XLV next week in Arlington, Texas: Green Bay's No. 5-ranked pass offense, averaging 258 yards per game with a remarkable five players having 40-plus catches, vs. the Steelers' secondary.

Check out the Packers' receivers:
Packer receiver corps

Donald Driver is the best-known name, though he is in the twilight of his career with his 36th birthday next week. Still, he was effective this season with 51 catches for 565 yards. His 9,615 career yards rank No. 2 on Green Bay's all-time list, 41 behind James Lofton.

Greg Jennings, 27, is the real star and the big-play man. His 76 catches ranked 18th in the NFL, and his 1,265 yards included 12 touchdowns. His 27 catches of 40-plus yards since 2007 are most in the NFL.

James Jones, 26, set career highs with 50 catches for 679 yards and five touchdowns. Thirty-three of those catches brought first downs, and he has three career touchdowns of 65-plus yards.

Jordy Nelson, 25, opened this season as the primary kick returner but graduated to make 45 catches for 582 yards. His development has included 12 playoff catches.

Add running back Brandon Jackson's 43 catches, and Rodgers has no less than a handful of reliable, dangerous options.

To boot, they sound strikingly confident.

"They've got a great defense," Driver said of the Steelers, "but our biggest thing is that it's not about them, it's about us. If we play the way we've been playing all season long, that tells you what we can do. We know that no one can beat us but ourselves. That's been a proven fact."

It is easy to see how Rodgers passed for 3,922 yards and 28 touchdowns in the regular season and, in three playoff games, has completed a superb 71 percent of his passes for 790 yards and six touchdowns. He also has converted half of all third-down opportunities by passing and -- get this -- has thrown only one incomplete pass in the red zone. And even that drew a pass interference penalty.

"It all starts with Aaron Rodgers," Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor said. "When it's time to score, they score, and he's the one getting it done."

The Packers' hard-throwing, fleet-footed quarterback has blossomed into a force in his third season out of Brett Favre's shadow. But that will be less of a direct concern for the secondary than how to take away all of Rodgers' many options.

"They have third and fourth receivers who can be starters in this league, and they force you to match up your third and fourth defensive backs against them. And they've got a quarterback who's confident enough to use all those guys," Clark said. "It's a huge challenge, but I think it's a challenge that we're up to. Fortunately, we've got a coach who knows how to scheme things to make the best plays, and that's what we're going to do."

Defensive coordinator D!ck LeBeau's scheme will not be evident to the outside world until the teams take the field, of course, but this much is certain: The Steelers' defensive backs must match the receivers, man-for-man.

Polamalu and Clark are exceptional safeties, and Taylor, a cornerback, has been solid in coverage. But Bryant McFadden might not be 100 percent because of an abdominal injury, which could force William Gay to play the other corner and limit McFadden to the nickel package with five defensive backs.

The Steelers could use more of the nickel than usual, but they likely will not take the extra step with a dime. LeBeau has tried the dime only sparingly in the past year, for two compelling reasons: The dime takes linebacker Lawrence Timmons, a good cover man, off the field in favor of Anthony Madison; and, the Steelers' heaviest use of the dime came in the ugly, 39-26 loss to Brady and the Patriots in November.

In Green Bay's 21-14 victory against Chicago in the NFC championship, the Bears used their standard cover-2 defense as Rodgers completed 17 of 30 passes for 244 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. But frigid temperatures might have affected those figures more than the scheme, and the weather will be moot next week under a closed roof: Rodgers' passer rating of 111.5 in indoor games since 2008 is the NFL's best.

The Steelers, like the Bears, deploy mostly a cover-2, and that should not change. What might change is how Polamalu is used: He is football's ultimate wild card, often improvising on instinct alone. In these playoffs, though, he has been hard to notice because he has mostly played in "center field," the football vernacular for deep, preventive coverage.

Applying heat to Rodgers is not easy, given his release and mobility, so it might pay for Polamalu to move closer to the line of scrimmage, either to keep the Packers guessing or to blitz.

"It's tough because they have a lot of different personnel groups," Polamalu said. "Rodgers gets the ball out of his hand really quickly, he's extremely accurate, and he throws the deep ball. There are a lot of different things to guard against."

Another thing: If Polamalu moves to the line, that will put even more pressure on the other defensive backs to contain the big play.

Recent history is unkind in this regard: Although the Steelers ranked No. 12 in pass defense in the regular season and fared well in bottling the Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets in the playoffs -- both teams had reputable receiving corps -- it was only last year at Heinz Field that Rodgers and the Packers passed for 383 yards in what wound up a wild 37-36 victory for the Steelers on the final play.

In the playoffs later that year, McFadden, then with Arizona, was tormented by Rodgers as part of the quarterback's 423-yard output. The Cardinals won, 51-45, but that sort of torching can leave scars.

Does the Steelers' depth chart in the secondary match the Green Bay receivers?

"I believe so," McFadden said. "But it's a big challenge. It's the first time we've faced a team with so many receivers. They can line up with five wideouts, and you just pick your poison."

"We've got to bring our 'A' game," Taylor said. "If you've got to sell your soul to the devil for this game, you do it. There's 32 teams in the NFL, only two standing. Whatever it takes, you've got to do it."

Taylor will have the biggest challenge if, as expected, he is assigned to track the speedy Jennings.

"I'm always up for a challenge," Taylor said. "That's my personality, from pingpong to Madden on PlayStation, I'm up to it. If you look at what Jennings has done, he's been solid, a Pro Bowl guy. But I'll be there."

One transparent aspect of the Steelers' plan: Be physical.

"The way I look at it, the more time the ball's in the air, the more chances we have to make plays and bang people," Clark said. "Knock some balls out and make them fear catching the ball across the middle."

"Let them know they're going to get hit for 60 minutes," Taylor said.

"We're not going to worry," Gay said. "We faced a lot of hot quarterbacks, a lot of good receivers, and we're going to prepare the best way we can to stop this offense, too.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11030...#ixzz1CV0GVOKN

Sonny
01-30-2011, 03:35 PM
Wow. How did this team lose 6 games?