What's wrong with the secondary?


Here's the situation:

Most NFL fans still say that the Steelers have one of the worst secondaries in the league.  Their embarrassing performance in the SB only added to the criticism.  My question is how can a team with the best safety in the league, and, in all honesty, a very good starting CB be so poor?

The answer is obviously that the other players are so much worse that sometimes it offsets Ike Taylor's excellent coverage and Troy Polamalu's...well...all around brilliance. Personally, I love Ryan Clark and his hard-hitting style to complement Polamalu's roaming the field.  Bryant McFadden is a pretty solid player when healthy. Key words: when healthy. Beyond that there isn't much to boast at the CB spot.

Basically, the rest of the Steeler's corners include William Gay, Keenan Lewis, Crezdon Butler, and the rookies Curtis Brown and Cortez Allen.  Those are a lot of players to have on the roster considering none of them are ready to step up and do the job.  The Steelers just signed two new guys yesterday.

I still don't know why they resigned Gay. He had plenty of chances, including a dismal year in 2009 in which he was a starter.  Considering how much potential there is in this group, I don't understand why waste a roster spot on him.  I'd rather force Keenan Lewis into action prematurely. At least he has the physical gifts and talent to become a very good CB in the NFL, and he'll definitely develop better on the field than on the sidelines.  So cut Gay, because we know he'll never be good enough.  With Lewis, this is the year for him where he will either become the next Ike Taylor (an extremely athletic middle round pick who took a few years to start and eventually became one of the better CBs in the NFL) or he will be considered a lost cause and will be cut.

Crezdon Butler, from what I've heard, has great physical skills and talents, but has trouble sticking with WRs. That probably makes him a better candidate for SS or FS.  That would be great if Butler officially switched positions and could learn exclusively from Troy Polamalu how to play safety.  That would make me very excited.

As for Curtis Brown and Cortez Allen, the lack of training camps definitely hurt their development, but as a Steelers fan I've learned not to expect contributions from rookie CBs anyway outside of special teams.  Hopefully at least one of them becomes really good.  That would leave us with a solid future at the position with Ike, Lewis (if he pans out the way Ike did) and either Brown or Allen (also assuming one of them develops similarly.)  Move Butler to safety, and cut Gay (for the love of God!)

Though not the best group in the league (or even the state), Ike Taylor, Bryant McFadden, and Keenan Lewis could be a VERY solid unit.  Our front 7 and pass rush allows them to be aggressive and if our CBs can cover well it allows us to use Polamalu as the extra blitzer/QB eye-reader.  That secondary alone is playoff caliber.  Combine it with the best front 7 in the NFL, and an all-around very good offense and we should be celebrating 2 or 3 more championships this coming half-decade.

Final thought: If Jason Worilds has a good preseason and looks like a starter, who would agree with a James Harrison for Asante Samuel trade?


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