clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Steelers secondary a group of "young guys just ready to go after the football"

The Pittsburgh Steelers secondary is a group of inexperienced players, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Horrible statistic of the 2015 season: Pittsburgh Steelers pass defense ranked 30th in the NFL.

In case you are new to the NFL, there are 32 teams in the league. That means only two teams were worse in terms of stopping the pass last season, and the Steelers still finished 10-6 and were a few plays away from the AFC Championship.

So, excuse me for not shedding many tears when the organization decided to start fresh next year in terms of their secondary depth.

Gone are Antwon Blake, Brandon Boykin and Cortez Allen. Hardly household names, but what they brought to the team was experience .

Welcomed are Artie Burns, Senquez Golson, Doran Grant and Ross Cockrell. Hardly an All-Star lineup, but what they lack in experience they gain in athleticism and ball skills.

In 2015 the secondary was experienced, but lacked the ability to make plays. In 2016 they will be sporting a unit which won't have as much game experience, but will be athletic with ball skills to boot. The players know what is at stake for this 2016 team, and they are already talking about it at OTAs.

"It's definitely a different feeling," Ross Cockrell told Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "That's the nature of the business, though.

"I learned a lot from (departed safety) Will Allen and Cortez Allen and from Antwon Blake, and I wish them the best of luck with the rest of their careers. But we're focused on this season.... With all our youth, it's really exciting. We've got a lot of young guys that are just ready to go after the football."

Getting after the football. Has a nice ring to it, doesn't it? The main player to keep an eye on in this regard next season would be second year cornerback Senquez Golson. Golson, who missed all of 2015 with a torn labrum, was a ball hawk while playing for Ole Miss. However, will he be able to duplicate such success at the NFL level?

"I don't feel like a rookie," said Golson. "(Last year was spent) learning communication, watching other players and learning how they talk."

When you have the 30th ranked pass defense, some might say you can only improve from here. After all, you can't get much worse.

"You understand that we gave up a lot of yards last year," Cockrell said, "so we're going to improve upon that as best we can.

"One thing we know, to be a good defense, you can't just let people go up and down the field on you, especially through the air."

"Just as a group... we want to do better than last year," William Gay said.

After being ranked near the bottom of the barrel, if the team could improve to just 15th in passing defense next season, the sky is the limit for this team...and this defense.