Dec 29, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon (right) reaches for a pass in the endzone as Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor (left) defends during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. The Pittsburgh Steelers won 20-7. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Steelers banking on cheap secondary

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The Pittsburgh Steelers took a plunge on defense in 2013, thanks to a dip in performance from the secondary. The team sported the league’s top passing defense in 2012, only to fall to ninth in that category in 2013. In a league more and more centered around the passing game, that’s hardly a recipe for success, which is just what the Steelers lacked last season, having finished 8-8.

Despite the troubling trend, the Steelers are standing firm with what they have in the secondary, per Pittsburgh Trib-Live Sports. The article note that “the Steelers will pay out a bargain basement $5.68 million combined to their top three cornerbacks: Ike Taylor, Cortez Allen and William Gay.”

Currently, Ike Taylor sits at the top of the team’s cornerback depth chart. Taylor has had a strong career with the Steelers, but in 2013 he was hit for plenty of yards against. The Trib-Live article notes, “Taylor was the only cornerback to allow more than 1,000 yards — 1,043 to be precise — in coverage last season based on Pro Football Focus’ analysis. Overall, Taylor was No. 68 (among 81), Allen was No. 50 and Gay was No. 37 in pass coverage, and the Steelers’ unit ranked 14th.”

In fairness, no one prefers to run on the Steelers, which means plenty of passes head in Taylor’s direction every game, but that should be no different from any other year. It’s hard to examine Pittsburgh’s situation and not say the team is taking a gamble by crimping on secondary spending. Unfortunately the team is fairly up against the cap, so they are what they are for a year at least.

With everyone else in the AFC gearing up with big cornerback contracts, the Steelers will need to show that value trumps flash. If they can’t, the team will struggle to improve on its .500 season last year.

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Tags: Pittsburgh Steelers

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