Pittsburgh Steelers

Nnamdi Asomugha: Could He Be the Missing Piece to Complete Pittsburgh's Steel Curtain?

Asomugha covering Randy Moss during the 2008 season.  Asomugha is a shutdown corner capable of shadowing anyone in the league.
Asomugha covering Randy Moss during the 2008 season. Asomugha is a shutdown corner capable of shadowing anyone in the league.Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
JosephCorrespondent IJanuary 11, 2011

For years now the Pittsburgh Steelers' defense has been the best in the league.

Year after year this bone-crushing defense puts up league-leading numbers, grays the hair of opposing coordinators, screws up people's fantasy teams and makes Roger Goodell cry at night about his precious moneymakers getting hit too hard.

The Steelers and defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau take pride in this tradition, which dates back to the '70s, when the legendary Steel Curtain terrorized the league like they were a team of Pac-Men with a never-ending supply of power pellets.

Many people today will go as far as to compare the Pittsburgh D of today with its ancestor, and a very strong case could be made.

Both defenses have won multiple championships: The '70s defense won four, and today’s defense two and a possible third hangs in the horizon. Both have Pro Bowl/Hall of Fame-caliber players: Joe Greene, Jack Lambert, Jack Ham, Mel Blount, etc. compared to today’s Troy Polamalu, James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley, Aaron Smith, etc. Both were/are league-leading defenses in terms of rushing, passing and total yards, turnovers, sacks and points allowed.

However, the one factor that limits the defense of today from being on the level of the Steel Curtain is the lack of a true shutdown corner. Ike Taylor in his prime was pretty good, but he alone simply cannot get the job done.

Enter Nnamdi Asomugha.

This is a bad man. The name itself would make me want to play running back for a game if I were a WR.

Save Darrelle Revis, Asomugha is the best shutdown corner in the league. His target ratio is ridiculous. He is targeted perhaps less than any corner in the league—a sure sign of respect from opposing QBs. Although he had a down year statistically, it is pretty difficult to get interceptions and tackles when the ball is thrown to the other side of the field 30 out of 31 times (exaggeration, but you get the point).

Imagine this: Troy Polamalu, Ike Taylor and Nnamdi Asomugha all in the same secondary. Troy enough is scary, but all three together is as scary as watching The Exorcist alone at midnight with the lights out as a five-year-old. Perhaps as scary as the thought of Bruce Arians returning next year or finding out that you just backed into Jack Lambert’s car.

The addition of Nnamdi Asomugha would shore up a previously questionable secondary for several years and would no doubt bring this pass defense back to a top three level. The biggest limiting factor is money, as he was scheduled to make $15 million this year before his contract with the Raiders was voided.

Of course, the best thing that would come out of this signing, no doubt in my mind, is that the Steelers could finally cut William Gay.

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