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Thread: Cornerback Misconceptions (by Chidi29) - April 10, 2011

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    Cornerback Misconceptions (by Chidi29) - April 10, 2011

    Ask any Steelers fan if they'd rather have a Lamborghini or draft a cornerback in the first round, and hey, gas prices are too expensive anyway.

    But maybe cornerback isn't as important as some think. If Ike Taylor stays with the team, don't expect the team to use a first round pick at the position.

    The reason for that revolves around Dick LeBeau's scheme. LeBeau uses zone and off coverage the majority of the time. Cover 3 is frequently used where the two corners and deep safety, Polamalu will usually be playing in the box in this set or in man coverage on the tight end, take away a third of the field. That is why teams such as Atlanta had so much success on curl routes and deep comebacks.

    Take a look at this video clip of Troy Polamalu's interception against Atlanta late in the 4th quarter:



    At the start, you can see both cornerbacks playing well off the ball, a good eight to ten yards off the line. At the 31 second mark, you can clearly see McFadden turn and run immediately after the snap. Ryan Clark rotates to the middle of the field. This isn't a true Cover 3 since it has two deep safeties though Troy seems to be roaming, but it is a microcosm for the philosophy Dick LeBeau has.

    So what do Steelers' cornerbacks have to do?

    Pittsburgh's cornerbacks are designed to keep all the action in front of them and not to get beat deep. To eliminate momentum changing plays. Which is why it's so rare and surprising when the team does give up a deep pass or two, like what occurred against the Ravens.

    They need to be solid tacklers. By playing so soft, teams counter it with screens and quick, timing routes. One missed tackle could lead to a lot of trouble. Steelers corners are YAC stoppers.

    The number one goal of this defense is to stop the run. If they're not doing that, they're not having a good game. Stopping the run puts teams in second and third and long allowing LeBeau to use exotic defensive looks. That puts pressure on the quarterback and creates the opportunity for turnovers.

    This goal is an eleven man task. As much criticism as Bryant McFadden gets, he is one of the best in the game against the run. He may be the reason why Ike Taylor played the majority of snaps at right cornerback because McFadden played on the strong side as a heat-seeking missile against the run.

    The physical and strong tackling cornerback is not the flashy mold that gets the headlines. They aren't the 4.4 ballhawks that will be sitting in the green room at Music City Hall. To the Steelers, those players are luxuries and not necessities.

    I am all for drafting a cornerback, if for no other reason to get Anthony Madison off the field in dime packages, but it doesn't have to happen in round one. There's no need to reach if there isn't a player worth taking. The team hasn't been so successful in the first round under Kevin Colbert by reaching.

    Only two cornerbacks have been taken in the first round since 1979 - Rod Woodson and Chad Scott. Odds are, that number will stay the same after April.

    © 2011 Steelers Universe








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    Re: Cornerback Misconceptions (by Chidi29) - April 10, 2011

    Picking up a playmaker cornerback is a necessity for our defense to deal well with the best passing teams. I understand the bend but not break approach we frequently take, but QB's like Aaron Rogers & Tom Brady are regularly chewing our secondary up. The moment Troy isn't at his best we end up very vulnerable. We can't have our entire defensive game plan be blown up over one player. A real shut down corner would take our secondary to a much stronger level.

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    Re: Cornerback Misconceptions (by Chidi29) - April 10, 2011

    Quote Originally Posted by pepsyman1 View Post
    Picking up a playmaker cornerback is a necessity for our defense to deal well with the best passing teams. I understand the bend but not break approach we frequently take, but QB's like Aaron Rogers & Tom Brady are regularly chewing our secondary up. The moment Troy isn't at his best we end up very vulnerable. We can't have our entire defensive game plan be blown up over one player. A real shut down corner would take our secondary to a much stronger level.
    I really don't think it would. Those are teams that obviously spread you out and can simply ignore the shutdown cornerback. Plus, when they can indirectly attack that corner by bunching up to his side pre-snap. It forces us to play off coverage because you can't try to jam; they'll beat you with underneath and combination routes.

    And putting a "shutdown" corner in a zone scheme is a bit of a waste.

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    Re: Cornerback Misconceptions (by Chidi29) - April 10, 2011

    And putting a "shutdown" corner in a zone scheme is a bit of a waste.
    There are "shutdown" zone corners....It is just almost impossible to be a shutdown zone player, because you are not covering a man, you are covering an area of grass. The really good zone corners still break on the ball and get there in time to make a no gain tackle....thereby making in useless for the QB to throw in their zone.

    They are not "shutdown" in the way that most of us think of shutdown corners...sticking with their man so tight that the WR never sees the ball or has a chance for the catch....but they are "shutdown" in truth, because they stop the QB from throwing into their area.

    Charles Woodson and Darrelle Revis are perfect examples of that.

    I think what you might have meant is that putting a man-to-man shutdown corner into a zone sheme can be a waste....in which I totally agree with you.

    Something else to keep in mind is that Cornerback Derrelle Revis would have been Mike Tomlin's 1st round pick in 2007, had the Jets not traded one spot ahead of us to grab him....so there is a chance that we could grab a corner at #31 if they are the BPA.
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    Re: Cornerback Misconceptions (by Chidi29) - April 10, 2011

    Quote Originally Posted by LLT View Post
    There are "shutdown" zone corners....It is just almost impossible to be a shutdown zone player, because you are not covering a man, you are covering an area of grass. The really good zone corners still break on the ball and get there in time to make a no gain tackle....thereby making in useless for the QB to throw in their zone.

    They are not "shutdown" in the way that most of us think of shutdown corners...sticking with their man so tight that the WR never sees the ball or has a chance for the catch....but they are "shutdown" in truth, because they stop the QB from throwing into their area.

    Charles Woodson and Darrelle Revis are perfect examples of that.

    I think what you might have meant is that putting a man-to-man shutdown corner into a zone sheme can be a waste....in which I totally agree with you.

    Something else to keep in mind is that Cornerback Derrelle Revis would have been Mike Tomlin's 1st round pick in 2007, had the Jets not traded one spot ahead of us to grab him....so there is a chance that we could grab a corner at #31 if they are the BPA.
    And that's the type of corners we target. The ones with quick reaction skills who can plant and drive off their backpedal if teams are going to throw the comeback like they so commonly do. Our corners don't miss many tackles and don't allow a lot of YAC. We're YAC stoppers.

    In the current age of teams spreading the ball out, teams are and are going to find it to be much easier to throw away from a shutdown CB who takes away apart of the field. When teams had run heavy offenses and just two receivers, then the shutdown corner was worth gold. They're still valuable today in the right schemes and I'd love for Revis to magically appear on our team, but if we don't get one, I'm not going to lose any sleep over it.

    That was my whole point. If it's BPA, then by all means take the guy. But we shouldn't feel obligated to take a guy at a position that we don't need as much as some think we do.

    And yes, I mainly meant taking a person like Asomugha, paying him a ton of money, and then putting him in a zone scheme. That wouldn't be worth it.

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