AP photo/Mel Evans
Ike Taylor recently joined Bob Labriola and Missi Matthews of to give his take on the upcoming Steelers team. He had lots of interesting things to say, and did so in his usual inimitable fashion. But before they talked to Ike they talked about him.
Labriola noted that Ike had lost some weight and was still clearly in great shape. This was no surprise to Labriola, who compared Ike’s workout schedule and general work ethic to Antonio Brown. High praise, indeed.
Furthermore, Labriola noted that Ike went 10 or 11 years without ever missing a practice. Mike Prisuta still regales whoever will listen with his tale about the time Taylor went through the morning practice and then drove into Pittsburgh to have his thumb operated on. You don’t accumulate a streak of 135 consecutive games without toughing out a lot of stuff.
Ken Blaze/USA Today Sports
In this series we have been revisiting the Steelers’ draft picks from 2010-2013. Links for the previous articles can be found at the end of this one.
The third-round pick in 2010 was one of three pro-bowlers the Steelers chose that year. WR Emmanuel Sanders became part of a group who dubbed themselves “Young Money,” and they were correct. Mike Wallace disdained the money the Steelers offered him, correctly assuming he could make more in free agency. Emmanuel Sanders was allowed to walk by the Steelers because they already knew what they had in Antonio Brown (although perhaps even they didn’t foresee just how good he would get.) Sanders was able to command a nice contract with the Broncos, and ironically is the only one of the trio who has a Super Bowl ring.
The previous post was getting unwieldy, because there is a great deal to talk about in terms of both Lake and the coaching job he has done so far. In the first post we looked at Lake’s first season (2011) which represented a high point for the secondary. It’s been mostly downhill since. According to Football Outsiders, the 2012 team dropped to No. 15 in the league, the 2013 team was No. 19, and the 2014 team was No. 30.
But guess what? Last season they finished at No. 13, despite not starting a single defensive back who ranked higher than No. 24, according to Pro Football Focus, among players with enough snaps to be ranked. The highest-ranked corner was Ross Cockrell, at No. 27. The highest-ranked safety was Mike Mitchell, at the afore-mentioned No. 24. They considered Antwon Blake to be essentially the worst corner in the league (and much of Steeler Nation would agree with them, I expect.)
Yesterday while checking out Twitter, which I do relatively seldom, I came across a couple of great tweets from Steeler dads, and decided to make a compendium to start the week out right. Enjoy!
Let’s start with one of the guys I would most like to hang out with, family style. His “Dad Do” ads for Pantene were classics, and you should definitely check them out if you haven’t seen them. I loved yesterday’s tweet:
This one, from a few days before, is also pretty wonderful:
Note that the scoreboard is marked “Steelers/Browns” and that the score is 1,000,000 for the Steelers and 0 for the Browns. If I were Hue Jackson I would be pretty worried, as in fact the Steelers play the Browns in Week 17 this year, and if that is actually the score (or the football equivalent—perhaps 52-3 or something similar) Jackson may find himself back on the market the next day, assuming the pattern holds true.
There are a lot of possible ways to end this mini-series. One could go for a catalogue of the worst performances, although for really truly bad performances you need to move outside of the Super Bowl itself. (Roseanne Barr’s performance at a Padres game, complete with, IIRC, crotch grab, comes to mind, or Steven Tyler’s mauling [or do I mean caterwauling] at the 2011 AFC Championship Game.)
But I prefer to end on a positive note, so here are some performances I think are notable for musical interest.
AP photo/Ben Margot
Last season Stephon Tuitt and Cameron Heyward played an unbelievable number of snaps for the Steelers—88% of them for Heyward, almost 79% for Tuitt. Part of the reason was, of course, that they were the best options. But part of the reason they didn’t get more time off more often was that they were more or less the only options.
This season may look rather different for them. It wasn’t looking good at first. The Steelers didn’t re-sign Cam Thomas, something which was rather expected in the face of his ineffectiveness. They also let Steve McLendon walk, and he signed with the Jets. This took the backups from “dangerously thin” to “practically non-existent.”
As I considered who to cover next in this series, I realized that it pretty much has to be Carnell Lake. Both the first and second round picks are being turned over to his care, and how well they develop will depend at least in part on his coaching ability.
Lake was, of course, one of the Steeler greats at defensive back, and since he played both corner and safety, would seem to be a natural as a DB coach. But there’s more to coaching than knowing how to do something yourself—lots more. In fact, it can be a hindrance to have been really good at whatever it is you do. It can be very difficult to see what the problem is when someone is struggling to do something you did without thinking about it.
It is perhaps tempting to think this is why the Steelers secondary just hasn’t been very good with Lake at the helm. It’s always tempting to look for easy answers. This is easily seen by the enormous impatience certain teams have with their coaching staff.