Don't let athletes fool you. They read the papers, if they have social media they check their notifications and some members of the Pittsburgh Steelers have shown they read the very website you are reading right now. They know what is being said about them and their play on the field, and in regards to Antwon Blake, you would have to have very thick skin to not hear the constant talk about Brandon Boykin supplanting him at the cornerback position.
The Steelers coaching staff has done their best to quiet the critics. Always talking about how "they like their secondary", "Blake is a competitor" and "he is strong against the run". After the team's Week 12 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, it will be interesting to see how the coaches respond, as Blake has done little on the field to silence the Boykin commentary, which has survived 12 weeks in the 2015 season.
It was simple for Blake. Go on the field, play fundamentally sound football and make sure no on even brings up Boykin as a potential threat to your position. Take away Blake's two interceptions, one returned for a touchdown against the San Diego Chargers and another against the Cincinnati Bengals, Blake has done very little to silence the critics.
To his defense, he is playing with a fractured thumb, which could take away the one part of his game which had been his calling card, his tackling. Nonetheless, after Week 12, Blake was considered the worst cornerback across the NFL, according to ProFootballFocus, a growing trend for the 4th year CB out of UTEP. Against Seattle, Blake allowed 5 completions of 7 passes thrown his way for 115 yards and two touchdowns. He also had a team-high 5 missed tackles on the day.
At this point it is pointless to sit and wonder why Brandon Boykin isn't even getting a shot to play over Blake, but the question which is now brought to the forefront is "can it get any worse?". The Steelers secondary has given up 966 yards through the air in their past three games. Nearly 1,000 yards passing by Derek Carr, Johnny Manziel and Russell Wilson. If such a statistic doesn't scream change, then I don't know what does.
If Boykin is given a shot to play, could it get worse than nearly 1,000 yards in three games? I highly doubt it. The sad truth to this scenario is nothing is likely to change. The Pittsburgh secondary has been giving up yards all season, but have been fortunate to bend, but not break. However, the secondary is breaking, and it was only a matter of time until it caught up to the Steelers.
As the team desperately clings to its AFC Playoff hopes, the time for a change is now. Blake has had more than ample opportunity to prove what he can do on the field, and now it is time to give someone else the chance. Will it be Boykin, or will it be Ross Cockrell? At this point does it really matter? Change is needed, and the time is now. If not, it will be interesting to see what the next three games have in store when Matt Hasselback, Andy Dalton and Peyton Manning / Brock Osweiler face this secondary.