Thursday, October 18, 2012

James Harrison And Ike Taylor Talk Defense, Accountability

Photo courtesy of ElizabethVincentPhotography.com

"Overall it's just breakdowns within the defense...not executing. Guys playing different calls than what are actually called....just not getting all-around snap in, snap out execution of the defense."

Those words were spoken by Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison to Mike Prisuta of WDVE after practice Monday. - http://tinyurl.com/8rl5t2p

As the Steelers prepare this week for the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday Night Football, the players know that more is needed than what they've shown to this point.

While defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau's scheme may be complex, knowing the plays called and executing them is a salient point to consider.

LeBeau talked a couple of weeks ago about players trying to do too much instead of just playing the defense as called.

Players have to trust their teammates too. But if players are "playing different calls than what are actually called," trust would become a difficult thing. So, execution becomes paramount.

Deebo, therefore, was right in pointing out that each man needs to be accountable.

"What we need is we need to play better defense, ya know, the whole game. Uh...better situational defense and guys need to...take responsibility for their actions and...do exactly what the defense is called to do. That's it."

Being the leader that he is, the Silverback showed appropriate candor when Prisuta asked about the drag route by the tight end late in the game that basically sealed the win for the Titans last Thursday.

"Bad technique," said Deebo. "I didn't get in front of him. He took off and caught the ball. He did his job, I didn't." (This 2nd link provides sstatements by Harrison not contained in the Steelers.com link above.)- http://tinyurl.com/9mwcyct

What the Silverback said is no secret. The 2012 version of the Steelers defense is not the juggernaut it has been in recent years so far this season. And other teams are taking advantage.

The main baby from whom teams have been taking their candy this season is cornerback Ike Taylor.

Ike has not played up to last season's standards this season and it has hurt the Steelers on occasion. He doesn't think it's that big of an issue, though, and said so on Trib Live Radio - http://www.youtube.com/watch?nomobile=1&v=3c5Fv57_njI

A'ight, Swag. I see ya, nephew.

Since If It Ain't Steel isn't exactly the "media" Ike was talking to, we won't take offense. This isn't 1952, but I like Ike, and he did make some valid points.

At the same time, however, overall numbers don't tell the whole story.

Yes, the Steelers do currently have the fifth rated defense in the NFL, are fourth against the pass and have allowed the fewest splash/explosive plays with eleven. When the numbers are examined more closely, though, the dings and dents in the steel curtain become more evident.

The Steelers defense may have allowed the fewest explosive plays, but many of them have come at inopportune times, including third down. Not coincidently, they rank 31st in third down conversions allowed. They're also allowing, as Ike admitted, a pathetic 23 points per game.

Again, Ike is a big part of that. I've said before that Ike has been worked like a part-time job this season. No one needs but to watch the games to see he isn't getting it done this season.

Regardless, Mark Kaboly of the Trib in Pittsburgh pinpointed the numbers to back it up anyway. He compared this year's numbers to last year's to show the difference.

This year through five games Ike has been targeted 44 times allowing 24 receptions for 382 yards, four touchdowns and seven penalties.

Last year through five games he was targeted 24 times allowing only three receptions for 24 yards, no touchdowns and only one penalty. -
http://triblive.com/mobile/msports/2738524-81/taylor-yards-third-game-steelers-titans-call-kaboly-mark-allowed

That will be tested even more Sunday as Ike is facing a wide receiver whom Ike calls the "third best" in the game, A.J. Green.

Might they switch Ike off of Green on occasion? Like a relief pitcher situation or moving a batter around in the lineup if he's slumping? Not according to Ike.

Ike isn't asking for safety help against Green despite the fact that he catches anything remotely near his hands. He's still confident he can go toe-to-toe. - http://t.co/8tbxBExR

Ike knows he's not playing as well as last season, but insisted it's "all correctable" and isn't related to last season's playoffs disaster.

"Um...naw," Ike said. "Just crucial times, I'm just doing a few things. But every season isn't going to be the same. What I do have is 11 more games left. So I just need to do what I need to do." - http://tinyurl.com/94gha6n

In other words, Swag still has his swag.

He'll need it Sunday. He'll need it for the remainder of the season.

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TIDBITS - Mike Tomlin wants more, and not just from a few players. http://t.co/m714bIQK

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Mike Tomlin said this week on Sirius XM Radio that he is concerned about health of safety Troy Polamalu. We addressed the "retirement" issue last week and said that we don't think imminent. Neither does Troy, per columnist Joe Starkey - http://sulia.com/my_thoughts/22557277-f690-44d0-80c4-d45d54c75a1c/

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ESPN Video: Harrison Says He Has Had 'Double Digit' Concussions. - http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=8515042&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

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Ta'amu suspended for two (too few) games. - http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/story/20574823/steelers-suspend-rookie-taamu-two-games