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 ...
The Texans (6-3) sit atop the AFC South, so let's take a look at two corners who are major keys to the NFL's third-ranked pass defense. Joseph, who is back in my top-10 rankings after falling out in Week 5, is quietly taking care of business. The 11th-year veteran is best when he plays off the line of scrimmage, as he can see the play develop and bait the quarterback. This season, Joseph has given up 27 receptions for 318 yards (11.8 yards per catch) on 44 targets for a completion percentage of 61.3. He hasn't given up a touchdown or recorded a pick, but quarterbacks have a passer rating of 83.3 against him. The area in which he needs to improve is tackling, which is what separates my top five corners from everyone else.
Jackson, on the other hand, is a bump-and-run corner. He likes to get up in the receiver's face and disrupt the timing between quarterback and receiver. He is a good tackler, but the reason he's not in my rankings is simple. He's allowed three touchdowns this season. I would rather see a corner give up eight catches for 100 yards with no touchdowns than three catches for 47 yards and two scores. Jackson often beats the receiver in positioning, but needs to finish the play. I want him to regularly find a way to deflect or intercept the ball. He has to start winning that battle. This season, he has allowed 23 receptions for 287 yards (12.5 yards per catch) on 36 targets for a completion percentage of 63.8. His touchdown-to-interception ratio is 3:1 in seven games -- sitting out Weeks 5 and 6 after going down Week 4 with a hamstring injury.
These two guys have a tall task this week when they travel to Mexico City for a Monday night game against the 7-2 Oakland Raiders. Joseph and Jackson will line up across the best receiving duo in the league -- Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, both first-round draft picks. The Raiders' tandem leads all WR duos in targets per game (18.8), receptions per game (11.9) and receiving yards per game (159.9) and is tied for first in 100-yard games (six). Cooper has great speed and is pretty precise in his route running, but Crabtree surprisingly just might be better at running routes, as he always finds a way to get open through his body control. The receivers each present something different but are equally as tough to cover.
Week 11 cornerback rankings: My top 10
Tom Brady targeted Sherman just three times on "Sunday Night Football" -- and we all know why. He shuts down any receiver when playing on or off the line of scrimmage because of his coverage skills and impressive tackling. Sherman allowed two catches for 19 yards in Seattle's 31-24 win Sunday. This Sunday, the Seahawks return home to host an Eagles team that's coming off a much-needed home victory over the Falcons. Sherman probably won't travel with WR1 Jordan Matthews because the "Legion of Boom" has Kam Chancellor back on the field, but Sherman will hold down his side, per usual.
This ballhawk took the ball away from Kelvin Benjaminlike it was his lunch money. Gimme that! What a huge play to give the Chiefs an opportunity to score. In that game-changing play, which resulted in Cairo Santos' game-winning field goal, Peters had great awareness. He knew he had several teammates around him, so he went for the ball and let them secure the tackle. Peters did give up five receptions for 97 yards and a touchdown Sunday, but that huge play late in the game supersedes the rest of the stat sheet in my opinion.
I'm looking forward to Peters' matchup with Bucs receiver Mike Evanson Sunday. Evans (6-foot-5, 231 pounds) uses his height very well and is one of the best at high-pointing the ball. He's well on his way to having a career year in his third NFL season (59 catches for 811 yards and eight touchdowns in nine games). For Peters to win this matchup, he's going to have to win the jump ball.
Once again, this blue-collar veteran is flying under the radar. The Minnesota defense has somewhat struggled in the last few games, but Newman continues to be a bright spot. He doesn't give up the big plays and, last week against the Redskins, Newman allowed three catches for 34 yards on four targets.
To me, this weekend's game against the Arizona Cardinals favors the Vikings. Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer has struggled with accuracy, throwing four interceptions in the last two games. The Vikings' defense will have ample opportunities to create turnovers; it just needs the offense to take advantage.
On Monday night, Pacman gave up one catch for 10 yards to Odell Beckham Jr., but it was costly. On the play, OBJ beat Jones on a double move for an easy touchdown. The Bengals CB moves down one spot after allowing the TD, but in his defense, I don't think anyone would have been able to cover OBJ on the play.
Without Aqib Talib on the field, the entire defense has more responsibility. Harris surely is doing his part on the island for a Broncos defense that's carrying the team again this season. In Denver's tight road win in New Orleans, Harris gave up one reception for 7 yards on two targets, making him the third-least targeted cornerback in Week 10 of those with a minimum of 25 snaps.
You know what they say: No news is good news. DRC is taking that statement to heart, as he's quietly having a Pro Bowl season. He allowed just two receptions for 12 yards on two targets against Andy Dalton and the Bengals on Monday night. And although the Chicago Bears will be without Alshon Jeffery on Sunday, the Giants' secondary can't get caught sleeping in this home game. It's important to keep focused and take advantage of any slip-ups by Jay Cutler.
Norman slides down one spot after the Vikings caught him out of position, resulting in a 2-yard touchdown to Adam Thielenon Sunday. Norman's still a top-10 corner in my mind because he's going to get receivers more than they get him with his attitude and the way he seeks the ball. This week, I'm curious to see if Norman follows Jordy Nelson. If he does, it will be important for Norman to stay as close as possible to the receiver -- who is tied for the league lead in receiving TDs with eight -- and win the plays in the red zone.
See featured section above.
I've talked a lot about Rodgers-Cromartie because I feel like he's the most consistent corner for the Giants, but Jenkins deserves some praise for what he's done, too. Viewers must understand that lining up on right side of the defense is much harder than the left because quarterbacks are often times right-handed, which puts the strength of the defense on the left side. This leaves Jenkins on an island in man-to-man coverage on the right side, whether or not the defense is playing zone, but he's been doing this since his days with the Rams. The Giants trust Jenkins on the island because he plays the deep throw well, high-points the ball and doesn't mind tackling.
Jenkins and Joseph jumped into the rankings this week because neither guy has allowed a receiver to get in the end zone in 2016. (Bradley Roby, who dropped out, gave up his first touchdown last week against the Saints.) Jenkins certainly deserves his top-10 spot after his performance against Cincinnati's A.J. Green, who had four catches for 23 yards on seven targets against Jenkins.