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83-Steelers-43
09-23-2006, 12:03 AM
Steelers' DBs can't be lost in space vs. Bengals'
Saturday, September 23, 2006

By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

If it appears the Steelers' cornerbacks are giving a sizeable cushion to wide receivers, they are. It is the design of their Blitzburgh defense. But that is only supposed to be the case before the pass is thrown.

Still, in the shutout loss Monday night in Jacksonville, the Steelers appeared to give too much room to Jaguars receivers Reggie Williams and Matt Jones and allowed quarterback Byron Leftwich to complete 26 of 39 passes for 260 yards. At one point, coach Bill Cowher yanked cornerback Ike Taylor for a play after he gave up back-to-back completions to a wide-open Jones along the sideline.

The Steelers cannot afford to be so generous with their defensive space tomorrow against the Cincinnati Bengals (2-0), not against quarterback Carson Palmer. Not with a receiving group that includes Chad Johnson, a three-time Pro Bowler, and deep threats Chris Henry and Kelly Washington.

But that is the way their scheme is designed -- keeping the cornerbacks mostly out of press, or bump-and-run, coverage because of the number of fire-zone blitzes employed in Dick LeBeau's defense.

It is a style different than the one used by, say, Jacksonville, which had its cornerbacks bumping and pressing Steelers receivers at the line of scrimmage in its 9-0 shutout victory.

"That's because they got a safety playing two-deep most of the time," said safety Tyrone Carter. "When they're doing that, you can see they got a deep safety back there."

The Steelers, though, rarely play a cover-two defense -- "We're not a cover-two team," said cornerback Deshea Townsend -- because they rely on their cornerbacks to keep the receiver in front of them and not give up the deep pass.

But they also want their corners to play off the line of scrimmage so they won't have their backs turned to the play. That gives them a better view of the field on blitz plays when offenses try to "sneak" players into pass formations.

Because the Steelers rely so much on their fire-zone blitzes, the cornerbacks sometimes have to cover other areas and pick up other receivers.

"That's one of the advantages of playing off -- you have the vision to see what's going on," said defensive backs coach Darren Perry, a former Steelers safety. "If it's a run, you're not getting your back turned in case something gets outside the gate. We have the flexibility to mix that up. When we feel the need to do it, we have [the cornerbacks] come in and give those guys the leeway to do what they want. But, for the most part, we try to control them."

Said second-year cornerback and nickel back Bryant McFadden: "In our defense, we run a heckuva lot of fire-zone [blitzes], and when we're blitzing of that nature and somebody misses a read and the ball sneaks out and we're in bump-and-run coverage, we're not going to see it until the ball gets down the field. One thing that has helped us a lot is by playing loose."

The Steelers will use their corners, Taylor and Townsend, in some bump-and-run coverage. But for the most part, the cornerbacks are required to line up approximately 8 yards off the line of scrimmage, depending on down and distance. If the distance for a first down or touchdown is less than 8 yards, the corners tighten the space between them and the receivers.

The cushion they give also can depend on the type of quarterback the Steelers are facing. If they are playing a quick-rhythm team that relies on timing in their pass routes, the cornerbacks will play off the receivers because they have to give themselves enough room to break on the ball.

"We can play press coverage, but certain calls in our defense dictate certain things we have to do," said Townsend, who is in his ninth NFL season. "We like to start at 8 yards and go from there. That way, an out pass should be no more than a 2- or 3-yard gain. That's nothing but a toss sweep. That's on us to make the tackle. When we make the tackle, it's not a problem."

Townsend and Taylor are different types of cornerbacks. Townsend is smaller (5 feet 9, 190 pounds) and more of a technician, a player who takes fewer risks and keeps the ball in front of him. Taylor is bigger (6-1, 191) and more athletic and prefers playing bump-and-run coverage to challenge a receiver.

But their style has less to do with preference than the responsibilities dictated by the defense.

"Some guys feel more comfortable with it," Perry said of bump-and-run coverage. "When you're [playing] off the receiver, you have to have more discipline. You can't guess. It's a lot easier for guys to play bump because there's no discipline involved, but you really have to be a technician when you're off."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06266/724327-66.stm

Atlanta Dan
09-23-2006, 08:30 AM
Attached link to a story in today's P-G notes what we saw Monday night - it is one thing to give a cushion on pass coverage and another not to close on the receiver once the play starts.

If it appears the Steelers' cornerbacks are giving a sizeable cushion to wide receivers, they are. It is the design of their Blitzburgh defense. But that is only supposed to be the case before the pass is thrown.

Still, in the shutout loss Monday night in Jacksonville, the Steelers appeared to give too much room to Jaguars receivers Reggie Williams and Matt Jones and allowed quarterback Byron Leftwich to complete 26 of 39 passes for 260 yards. At one point, coach Bill Cowher yanked cornerback Ike Taylor for a play after he gave up back-to-back completions to a wide-open Jones along the sideline

http://www.postgazette.com/pg/06266/724327-66.stm

The big question regarding negotiations with Ike Taylor for a long term contract were committing big $ to a CB who had only started for one year and was exploited by the Seahawks in the Super Bowl for playing too far off the receiver until the 4th quarter INT (which was an INT off a horrible pass into zone and not man to man coverage).

Ike does not appear to have played anywhere near the level expected of him so far this season - since he in large part owes his contract to his shutdown of Chad Johnson last year Ike needs to return to the form that earned him his contract starting tomorrow. If the DBs play like they did against Jax Palmer will torch them for +30 points again.

19ward86
09-23-2006, 10:38 AM
ike,troy and bryan will be for sure focused. it seems that deshea and ryan or whoever our starting safety is always ends up zoning out. the same with ricardo. i think by the end of the year ike,troy,anthony,bryan will be our back four guys because they have the most talent for that position.great read

83-Steelers-43
09-23-2006, 10:48 AM
Threads merged. Same article/topic.

lamberts-lost-tooth
09-23-2006, 01:29 PM
Excellent article!!...on obvious passing plays.. when we drop into the nickel or dime package Ike has been a little more reluctant to play further up than last year

One of the major reasons I believe the nickel has been successful for us is that an otherwise good QB can make reads and hit the open receiver against a rushing defense...but when the QB makes his drop, sees that all receivers are covered, and there is no one to throw to he PANICS .... He either tries to force the ball into coverage which leads to interceptions or he will pull the ball down early and start to run destroying the pass play. Since we are in nickel most of the time in a "long" situation, our pursuit gets to the QB before too many yards are gained and they will still be in a long yardage situation....HOWEVER...When our CB's are playing that far off...this all falls apart. Not only does that "pad" make it easier for the QB to hit his man..but now we have our "Blitz" person out of position and there is a chance for LONGER yardage after catch.

Same for our Dime packages which are also commonly used in long or obvious passing plays..... but usually features six (as opposed to the normal four) defensive backs.....more times than not, the backups to the starting cornerbacks on both sides will make up the two additional dime package defensive backs, but not always ..(since I have seen them switch up Ricardo and Tyrone) and they will use a third safety...so again if Taylor or Deshea play too far off...the addition of Mcfadden and Ricardo wont change the outcome.

I know sometimes we bring in Carter on occasion to jam the recievers on the line..so maybe that is the answer this next week...Have Tyrone jam Chad on the line and follow back to Ike....This would free up Troy to play center field and watch the QB's decision more closely in regards to the WR that is going long....(Slot had better be covered by LB and one of the CB)

All this rambling simply means that the pad HAS to be better accounted for!!! MOVE UP IKE!!! You run in the Frikin' 4.3's...!!!!


.....

Marvin_for_prez
09-23-2006, 01:46 PM
This is a very well-written and interesting article. You guys definitely need your DBs to step up tomorrow and apply some pressure to our recievers. If your corners give our guys the same amount of space that they gave Matt Jones and Co, it could end up being a very long day.

Midnightwriter07
09-23-2006, 07:32 PM
Getting to Palmer is the key with the pass rush... We arent going to stop him or anyone else from throwing ... teams always are able to throw on us no matter who we play... but we sure as hell better be knocking Palmer on the ground each pass play so he starts to worry a little bit before he throws who is coming after him and from where.

lamberts-lost-tooth
09-24-2006, 11:46 AM
Ike has traditionally been able to cover Chad...Its Ricardo on TJ that I am worried about today....

So then it becomes a question as to use McFadden or Ricardo?....Ricardo is faster ....Mcfadden is a much better cover corner....????

CantStop85
09-24-2006, 11:57 AM
Ike has traditionally been able to cover Chad...Its Ricardo on TJ that I am worried about today....

So then it becomes a question as to use McFadden or Ricardo?....Ricardo is faster ....Mcfadden is a much better cover corner....????
If I were the Steelers, I would use McFadden on TJ since TJ's more of a possession receiver and Ricardo on Chris Henry since Henry's more of a deep threat.