Ike Taylor is no stranger to being on an island. The former Steelers cornerback helped Pittsburgh win two Super Bowls during his 12-year career. In this series, Taylor will feature one pertinent cornerback on "Ike's Island," where he breaks down the player's on-field play and significance heading into the coming week. In addition, he lists his updated top-10 cornerback rankings.
Featured on Ike's Island this week ...
You know what they say: No news is good news. And that's exactly the kind of season Bulter has had. The third-year corner quietly has handled his business this year after struggling early in the season. In the first two games, Butler allowed 18.2 yards per reception. But after six weeks, that number has decreased to 13.7 yards per catch (still about 1.5 yards per catch more than any of my top three CBs this week). In total, he's given up 15 catches on 28 targets for 205 yards and one touchdown. The lone score came at the hands of Brandon LaFell last week. Since Week 3, Butler's numbers are comparable to those in my top 10. It's not how you start, but how you finish -- and he's starting to hit his stride in the middle of the season.
He might not "wow" anybody or be the flashiest cornerback in the league, but he's a technician. And because he is a sound corner, the Patriots' coaching staff can rely on him in a lot of ways. The coaches also put him in good positions to make plays -- he just has to make them. He certainly has in the past (See: Super Bowl XLIX). He absorbs what he's being taught and applies it to his play.
Butler faces a Big Ben-less Steelers team on Sunday, but even so, I'm expecting him to line up across Antonio Brown. In last year's meeting, Brown racked up nine receptions for 133 yards and a touchdown against Butler and the Patriots. Although Ben Roethlisberger won't be throwing to Brown, the wideout's still going to get his touches and yards. Butler just needs to keep the speedster from getting in the end zone for this to be a successful trip to Pittsburgh.
Week 7 cornerback rankings: My top 10
Step aside, Richard Sherman. There's a new No. 1 cornerback -- the same one who's been claiming that he is the best cornerback all year. Josh Norman has proven why he is the NFL's highest-paid cornerback during his short time with the Redskins, leaving the struggling Panthersscratching their heads. He brings another dimension to this defense and has taken on big challenges on a weekly basis.
I am more and more impressed by Norman as the season progresses. He's moved up to the top spot this week because of his stats. Through Week 6, Norman has allowed 17 receptions on 33 targets (51 percent completion rate) for 209 yards (12.3 yards per catch) and has a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 1:1. He has racked up eight passes defensed and 26 tackles. His numbers are nearly equal to (or better than) those of Richard Sherman (the former No. 1 CB on my list) and Patrick Peterson (the resident No. 2 here).
Peterson might've taken warmups lightly Monday night, but the game was the exact opposite. Peterson limited the Jets' passing game with the exception of one play where he got beat by Brandon Marshall, resulting in a 36-yard gain. Marshall also made a spectacular catch over Peterson's great coverage, but even Marshall's impressive play couldn't lift the Jets to victory. Peterson gave up three receptions for 65 yards -- 59 of those yards to Marshall -- but no touchdowns.
This week's divisional game vs. the Seahawks should be great, with the two top corners roaming the field against two (at times) dynamic offenses.
There is a lot to discuss surrounding Sherman after Seattle's 26-24 win over Atlanta. Sherman did a solid job against Julio Jones, the league's leading receiver, giving up 40 yards on five targets to the Falcons star. One play worth addressing was Jones' touchdown, which resulted in Sherman's frustration on the sideline. Although Sherman initially lined up on Jones, he slid over to cover Austin Hooper when the tight end motioned to the boundary. As Sherman went with Hooper underneath, there was miscommunication between Sherman and safety Kelcie McCray, which left Jones open for a 36-yard TD.
That touchdown wasn't Sherman's fault; however, he missed an assignment later on that resulted in a Falcons' touchdown by tight end Levine Toilolo. Sherman went underneath with Jones, but if the No. 1 receiver runs a shallow route across the middle, the corner is supposed to drop back in deep coverage. He didn't and Toilolo rumbled into the end zone. I feel like Sherman's mental thoughts disrupted him on that play, and that can't happen.
Against the Patriots, Pacman was targeted twice out of 31 plays, making Jones the second-least-targeted corner in Week 6. Against a dynamic Tom Brady-led offense, Jones gave up just one reception for 5 yards. There's a reason why quarterbacks avoid him -- he's doesn't give receivers many chances.
Here comes Peters with another interception. Shocker! You can say that it was underthrown, but this guy has instincts like Spider-Man. He has a league-leading five picks this season. If I'm a quarterback, I'm going to start avoiding him. It's just bad news, unless your receivers are doing double moves -- like the Steelers did in Week 4.
The Broncos have been struggling in their last two games (both losses) as a cover unit because teams have found a recipe to beat them. Opponents have executed plays that require linebackers and safeties to cover. These are two positions that do a lot of things well, but covering generally isn't one of them. That said, I still like what Denver's cornerbacks are doing. Talib allowed two receptions for 18 yards in the loss at San Diego. You can't ask for much more than that.
Roby maintains his spot in the middle of the pack because of his consistency. Last week, he allowed 33 yards on two catches. He has been asked to cover a number of different players in each game and has more than held his own.
DRC was targeted 10 times by Joe Flaccoon Sunday. He allowed six receptions for 84 yards (14 yards per catch). On top of covering the opponent's best receiver more often than not, Rodgers-Cromartie can cover from the outside to the inside, which is tough to do. Still, I'd like to see him cut his yards-per-catch average down.
Harris has been handling his business, and giving up 28 yards on four receptions is an acceptable performance. However, giving up a touchdown is not. That's why he moved down to here.