A Look At the Pittsburgh Steelers' Cornerbacks' Pass Defense

TJ JenkinsAnalyst INovember 22, 2009

PITTSBURGH - OCTOBER 25: Sidney Rice #18 of the Minnesota Vikings runs after a catch as Ike Taylor #24 of the Pittsburgh Steelers defends at Heinz Field on October 25, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Pittsburgh won 27-17. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

When looking at the trio of Pittsburgh Steelers cornerbacks that actually see some major game time, we're only looking at Ike Taylor, William Gay, and Deshea Townsend.

We all know that Taylor and Gay are the two starters and that Townsend gets extended playing time in the nickel and dime formations.

Of these three, Taylor and Gay have been tested time and again by opposing quarterbacks, to little avail.

Through nine games this season, Taylor has been thrown at 67 times, allowing 42 completions for a grand total of 513 yards, or 12.2 yards per completion. Along with that, he's only allowed a single touchdown pass.

Considering the fact that he's covered every opposing team's best wide receiver, it's not a bad statistic at all.

Quarterbacks complete an average of 62.7 passes against him all season long, with their average rating being 91.2.

On the opposite side of the Pittsburgh defense, left cornerback Gay has only allowed 44 out of 63 attempts to be completed which factors out to be 69.8 percent. 

He's only allowed 391 yards, but 163 of those came after the catch, which speaks on his ability to wrap up the ball carrier, which we'll get into.

The average QB rating when throwing to Gay is 86.1. It isn't horrible, but it isn't spectacular either.

Deshea Townsend has seen far fewer snaps than either of the two above, which makes it reasonable to believe that his stats will look better as far as the cumulative numbers go.

He's been thrown at 18 times, only allowing eight of those to be completed which equates to 44.4 percent. He's only allowed 58 yards this season. He, like Gay, has gotten burned in the YAC statistic, allowing 43 yards after the catch.

The QB rating against Townsend? 52.5.

When comparing the three, you've got to consider that Taylor and Gay have seen over 400 more defensive plays this season and the fact that he's generally lined up over the opposing team's third string receiver, thus the deceiving statistics.

The tackling issue is one that needs to be addressed as soon as possible by Pittsburgh Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau.

Taylor and Gay have 38 and 39 tackles respectively. But Gay has missed a whopping seven tackles, which is evidenced by the spike in the number of yards after catch put up by opposing receivers that he is covering.

Taylor and Townsend have missed two apiece, not bad considering the traditional role of a corner is to stop the pass and not the run. Look at Deion Sanders; he never could tackle. Neither could Champ Bailey.

But the Pittsburgh defense is one in which the corners HAVE to be able to wrap up the ball carrier.

The trio has the pass defense part covered, as they've only allowed one touchdown pass between the three of them.

Gay needs to work on taking the ball carrier to the ground and the Steelers cornerback duo of Taylor and Gay could very well turn into one of the best in the league.

They won't put up the flashy stat, interceptions, but they will knock the pass away and keep it out of the receivers' hands. Taylor has eight knockdowns while Gay has nine.

Tomorrow, we'll take a look at the Pittsburgh Steelers Safeties and their pass coverage ability.

Don't forget to read TJ Jenkins' work at the Pittsburgh Pigskin Blog & at Sports Jabber.