As we continue to get ready for the 2010 season, let’s play some over/under. Today’s topic: Steelers Cornerbacks
One of the most shocking statistics to come out of the 2009 season was the fact Steelers cornerbacks combined to intercept just two passes. And those two didn’t occur until the Week 17 game against the Miami Dolphins, when wily veteran Deshea Townsend picked off Chad Henne in the second quarter, which was followed by Ike Taylor taking one away from Tyler Thigpen on the final play of the fourth quarter.
Townsend, of course, is no longer with the team. Replacing him is Bryant McFadden, a player Steelers fans are quite familiar with for his sizable role on two Super Bowl winning teams. Of course, he too had zero interceptions in 2009, struggling to adjust to the Arizona defense. In other words, of the Steelers cornerbacks on the roster right now, they combined for one interception in the NFL a season ago. One. (That’s all we got?!)
Good news: there’s nowhere to go but up.
Working In Their Favor: Well, for one thing, and as I’ve pointed out before on this site, the return of McFadden should push William Gay back into the Nickel role that he was so successful in during the 2008 season, so that should help (and I’m quite happy about that). As should the return of a healthy Aaron Smith and Troy Polamalu (simply because they make the entire defense better). With LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison still causing havoc off of the edge, the pass rush should also be there to force quarterbacks into some bad decisions/hurried throws.
Working Against Them: The pass rush was there, for the most part, last season as well, and it didn’t exactly lead to large numbers of interceptions. Also: some of these guys simply don’t have the best hands (see: Ike Taylor, and, for the masochists out there, Joe Burnett vs. the Raiders). It’s just not a great group (there’s not a Darrelle Revis, Nnamdi Asomugha or Champ Bailey out there), but it should be an improved one. Will it be enough of an improvement?
So, over/under: five interceptions for Steelers cornerbacks.