Tag Archives: Corner

Coordinators Corner: Haley & LeBeau

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Offensive Coordinator Todd HaleyRe: The plan for using RB Chris Rainey:I think every week it will be semi-similar. It will depend upon what mode we’re in. Last week we got into a bunch of no-huddle……

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Coordinator’s Corner: Haley & LeBeau

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Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley and defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau talked after practice on Thursday about this week’s game against the Denver Broncos.Offensive Coordinator Todd HaleyR……

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Cortez Allen Could be Steelers Next Great Corner

Cortez Allen didn’t start playing football until his Senior year of High School, but that didn’t stop him from getting a scholarship to continue playing. Allen was so impressive in his first year of football that he earned a scholarship to The Citadel. During his time there he became a t ContinueThe post Cortez Allen Could be Steelers Next Grea…

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Steelers and Bengals Drafts Discussed on Yahoo Sports’ Shutdown Corner Podcast with Doug Farrar and Greg Cosell


Yahoo Shutdown Corner editor Doug Farrar had draft guru Greg Cosell on his podcast Thursday, talking about the early projections of the 2012 draft classes of the AFC North.

They both rightfully lavished heavy praise on the draft class of the Cincinnati Bengals, both this year and last year. The Bengals’ trade-down move behind Pittsburgh to select Wisconsin OG Kevin Zeitler while the Steelers selected Stanford OG David DeCastro, a move that could end up being one of the better debates in football; who would you rather have? The mauler (Zeitler) or the technician (DeCastro)?

Cosell on A.J. Green: ‘I think he’s well on his way to being a top 5 receiver in this league. He seems like a much smoother and quicker athlete than someone who’s 6-foot-4.’

Cosell on the Bengals CB Dre Kirkpatrick: “He did not consistently play to his physical attributes, but his physical skill set is definitely there. I’ve heard people talk about transitioning him to safety, I don’t know why they’d want to do that.”

(NOTE: Kirkpatrick recently signed a four-year contract with Cincinnati)

“I really like Mike Zimmer as a defensive coach. I think a number of these (younger) guys will get a chance to contribute.”

This is the part that scares me about Cincinnati. They have drafted very well, and even better for them, they’ve taken guys who can play right away. Is Kirkpatrick very dissimilar to Browns CB Joe Haden? Both of them will be outstanding cornerbacks in the league

Cosell on the future argument of Zeitler vs. DeCastro: “I’m in the minority here, but personally, I thought Zeitler was a little bit more complete than DeCastro. I think Zeitler is a better athlete than DeCastro is. I thought he had more scheme versatility. I thought Zeitler fits great in a zone scheme, and I’m not sure DeCastro does. Given what the Bengals want their guards to do, I think Zeitler is the better choice, and I think he would have been the better choice if both would have been available.”

It’s worth noting Farrar notes his “man crush” with DeCastro. He also noted he didn’t see a great level of strength with DeCastro in comparison to Zeitler.

Steel City Insider publisher Jim Wexell has also noted Zeitler’s strength and power as well. DeCastro is more of a technician, and the highest and best use for each of them is a dime vs. 10 cents. If Zeitler bludgeons people and DeCastro simply outplays people, they’re both likely to get the job done the vast majority of the time.

Cosell on Steelers RB Chris Rainey: “I love this pick for them. It’s funny how things change in given years, and where people get drafted — I like Rainey more than Dexter McCluster, and McCluster was a second-round pick of the Chiefs [in the 2910 NFL draft]. The reason he’s a fifth-round pick? He is what he is. He’s not a feature back, but you design 12 to 15 plays [around him], whatever you choose — but this guy can score from anywhere on the field.”

Well put, if you’re a supporter of Rainey. He’s not going to be a feature back (probably), but is Darren Sproles a feature back? He’s a highly effective player, and that’s certainly a high ceiling to expect from the rookie, but drawing up a certain amount of plays designed to get Rainey the ball in space is a smart idea. The amount of touches he’ll get – something we’ve discussed on BTSC a few times – remains to be seen, but plain and simple, speed kills.

Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

Steelers CBs Corner the Market in FO Rankings


The Football Outsiders’ CB rankings just came out, and they were really interesting, at least for Steeler fans. Because, by gum, on every single metric they used there was at least one or even two Steeler cornerbacks in their top ten.

Let’s look at the numbers. In each category you see the players they ranked as No. 1, No. 10, any Steelers players on the list, and Philadelphia’s Asante Samuel, who was consistently good in every category and provides sort of a benchmark. They included in the analysis all cornerbacks with at least 40 charted passes for the season. They note “[We remove all] passes marked as Hail Mary, Hit in Motion, Tipped at Line, or Thrown Away…and passes marked as Wide Receiver Screens.” They are just looking at situations in which a cornerback was the primary man in coverage, and who could have been expected to make a play in the circumstances. The full article can be found here.

First up is Fewest Yards Allowed Per Pass:


Next up, Success Rate. This is the percentage of passes that don’t manage to get at least 45 percent of needed yards on first down, 60 percent of needed yards on second down, or 100 percent of needed yards on third down:


And finally, as the FO guys said, more for conversation than anything else, Yards After Carry Allowed:


Because I had the impression that the PFF (Pro Football Focus) numbers for our guys weren’t particularly good, I decided to make some comparisons. It turned out to be very interesting. Numbers, clearly, are subject to very different interpretations, depending on what one looks at. Let’s have a look at the PFF figures and then see whether we can work out where the differences are.

In the general ranking of cornerbacks on PFF, the story looks rather different. Ike Taylor appears as No. 41 (out of 66 ranked corners—this is filtering for the corners with a reasonable number of snaps.) He is beaten out by William Gay, who is No. 28 (Lewis doesn’t appear on this chart, as he has insufficient snaps to qualify). But let’s take a look at some of their so-called Signature Stats and see if they look any different. Once again I’m going to use Asante Samuel (who was No. 12 on the full PFF ranking) as a sort of benchmark, and give the first and last person for that ranking:

Run Stop % (just what it sounds like:)


Tackling Efficiency [TE] (number of attempted tackles per miss):


Coverage: According to PFF “Taking in account the number of snaps a defender spends in coverage [CS] is key to understanding their impact.” The CS/Reception figure is how many receptions the CB allowed when he was the primary man in coverage for that snap:


Slot Performance: (Neither Samuels nor Ike Taylor had enough slot snaps to make it through the filter—Asante had 8 snaps in the slot, Taylor 61.)


So what does this all tell us? Why are the numbers so different? Well, first of all, the FO ranking is pass coverage only, which changes the equation in terms of comparisons to many of the PFF figures. But let’s just look at the PFF numbers for the moment.

Both Taylor and Gay look a lot better on the PFF Signature Stats than they do when just looking at the normal cumulative ranking. This is a good thing. The Signature Stats are a way PFF looks at the data, filtering for what really matters in a given position, or at least what they think really matters. They are looking for a way to determine who is actually effective at their position, as opposed to who is putting up a lot of stats.

So while Darrelle Revis showed up as the top-ranked CB in their cumulative ranking, in their Signature Stats he was tied for No. 19 in Run Stop Efficiency, (Gay was No. 6,) tied for No. 14 in Tackling Efficiency, (Taylor was No. 12 and Gay was No. 16,) and was No. 5 in CB Coverage (Gay was No. 9, Taylor No. 23.)

Revis didn’t show up on the top ten of the Football Outsiders rankings at all. This was clearly a surprise to the FO author, who commented on this fact. He noted the second half of Revis’s season was not very impressive, possibly due to injury. Nnadami Asomugha, the man so many of us were hoping the Steelers would pick up in free agency last year, didn’t show up on the top ten either. He was roundly beaten by Asante Samuels in almost every category, including on the PFF stats (although he was No. 1 overall in Coverage.)

Does all of this merely show you can “prove” anything with statistics? Not exactly, although it does show you come up with greatly varying results according to what you are looking for. It is interesting that a very respectable website with no dog in the race, Football Outsiders, valued our corners quite highly, and when one digs into the PFF stats in more than a superficial way it supports the contention that both Ike Taylor and, in particular, William Gay played well last season. Which makes it all the more a pity Gay has departed for Pittsburgh West.

I can only conclude the Steelers FO and coaching staff believe they have more than adequate replacements ready to step up and make their mark. Steeler Nation awaits the results.

Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

Now that William Gay Has Signed with the Cardinals, Who Will Step up to be the Steelers Number Two Corner?

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 30:  Keenan Lewis #23 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates in the final seconds of the game against the New England Patriots during the game on October 30, 2011 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

The Steelers said goodbye to a number of long-time veteran players in recent weeks, but other than sentimental value, players like Hines Ward and Aaron Smith didn’t figure to have much of an impact or make much of a difference in wins and losses starting next season. One might say that James Farrior is going to be hard to replace as a leader and the inside linebacker. There is some merit to that, obviously, but Farrior is also 37 years old, and his replacement will more than likely be Larry Foote, a player who has started in two Super Bowls and played in a third. Is Foote James Farrior? No, but he’s serviceable.

That brings me to William Gay. Gay became another veteran to leave the Steelers when he signed a two-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals yesterday.

During his time here, William Gay wasn’t exactly revered by Steelers fans in the same way that Hines Ward and Aaron Smith were during their careers. In fact, it was pretty much the opposite, especially in ’09 and ’10.

In ’09, Gay assumed the starting corner job after Bryant McFadden left for Arizona (there’s that team again), but his ’09 season was a disaster, as he was one of the main culprits in the team’s inability to hold 4th quarter leads.

In 2010, Gay was most remembered for his infamous performance trying to cover Rob Gronkowski in a Sunday night game against the Patriots. In that game, a 39-26 New England victory, Gay was beaten by Gronkowski for three touchdowns and looked completely overmatched on every single one of them. Gay was also one of the players singled out for the team’s failure to stop Aaron Rodgers and the Packers passing offense in Super Bowl XLV.

Last offseason, there was much talk that the team should draft a corner as high as the first round in order to address the major need. The Steelers, instead, decided to further address the defensive line by making Cam Heyward the team’s first round draft choice. The Steelers did go corner in back to back rounds when they took Curtis Brown out of Texas in the 3rd round and Cortez Allen out of the Citadel in the 4th round.

Many were wondering if Gay would return to the team last season, and he did re-sign with the Steelers shortly after the lockout ended. McFadden opened the 2011 season as the starting corner opposite Ike Taylor, but Gay would soon be in the lineup following a Mcfadden injury early on. Not only did Gay hold his own, he was part of a passing defense that was number one in the NFL. And he contributed significantly to a win against the Bengals with a couple of big 4th quarter plays, including an interception late to seal the deal. Gay came up big again the following week with another key 4th quarter interception that clinched a victory against the Chiefs on Sunday Night Football. T

The secondary went from an area of great concern to one that was seen as a strength, and William Gay was certainly a key member of the unit.

So, now that Gay is gone, how will the Steelers address the issue?

The good news is the Steelers do seem to have three very talented candidates to replace Gay.

Fourth year corner Keenan Lewis appeared to make significant strides last season after struggling mightily in his first two campaigns, and he did so well, he was the number three cornerback in 2011.

And the team appears to be very excited about the potential of both Brown and Allen. The fact that McFadden couldn’t even sniff the lineup last season after recovering from his injury tells me that there are more than enough candidates to replace Gay. And let’s not forget about the key contributions of new secondary coach Carnell Lake. Lake received rave reviews last year for the work he did with the secondary, including improving the play of both Gay and Lewis, and he might have been the central reason for that number one ranking. Hopefully, he can get both Brown and Allen to make significant strides in 2012.

There are no guarantees, obviously. Lewis isn’t too far removed from that infamous preseason game in Denver just two seasons ago, and Brown and Allen haven’t shown anything other than raw potential up to now.

How do you think the Steelers will address the departure of Gay? Do you think they’ll just go in the obvious direction and promote Lewis and have Brown and Allen fight it out for the nickle spot?

Or do you think they need to go out and find a veteran player to be the team’s number two corner for at least another year while the young guys get some more seasoning?

Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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