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. For the second straight year, Taylor's weekly series 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 and top-three CB duos.
Featured on Ike's Island this week ...
In about week's time, Seattle's Legion of Boom lost two key parts in Kam Chancellor (neck) and Richard Sherman (Achilles). Almost immediately following the announcements, "That's it for the Seahawks" chatter filled the football world. But while we're not going to get the same Legion of Boom production, I wouldn't count this group out just yet.
Starting for the new-look Seattle secondary on Monday night were safeties Earl Thomas and Bradley McDougald (starting in place of Chancellor) and cornerbacks Jeremy Lane (stepping in for Sherman) and Shaquill Griffin. The injury bug continued, though, as Griffin, who played just three percent of the Seahawks' snaps, left the game early and was evaluated for a concussion. The newly-signed Byron Maxwell played in his place the remainder of the game, while Justin Coleman played at the nickel position.
Between Lane, Coleman and Maxwell, they allowed a combined nine receptions on 13 targets for 113 yards and a touchdown (on Coleman) in coverage. The secondary played better than we give them credit for, holding Matt Ryan to just 195 passing yards and ending his NFL-record streak of 64 consecutive games with at least 200 passing yards. And Atlanta's receivers made some impressiveplays on the sideline.
The most concerning thing I saw Monday night was the busted coverage on Matt Ryan's touchdown pass to Levine Toilolo. The cornerbacks didn't do a great job of getting in position to look at the ball on the sideline. When in position, the corner avoids panic mode and is able to look back for the ball when the receiver does, giving him the real chance to make a play.
There are several factors playing in the Seahawks' favor heading into the final six games (at 49ers, vs. Eagles, at Jaguars, vs. Rams, at Cowboys, vs. Cardinals). First, the best quarterbacks they will face are Carson Wentzin Week 13 and Jared Goffin Week 15, both at CenturyLink. Second, Russell Wilson is going to keep them competitive no matter the opponent, a reason he's in the MVP conversation. Most importantly, the height of the CBs on the outside -- Lane at 6-foot and Maxwell at 6-1 -- combined with Seattle's explosive pass rush forces opposing quarterbacks to make extremely accurate throws. This secondary isn't super-athletic, nor will it wow you with speed, but their ball skills and size will keep them from being a liability.
That said, Seattle goes 4-2 down the stretch, putting them at 10-6, and solidifies a spot in the playoffs for the sixth straight season.
Week 12 cornerback rankings: My top 10
Peterson faced one of his toughest foes in DeAndre Hopkins in Week 11, and we knew Hopkins was going to get a lot of attention from Tom Savage. Per Next Gen Stats, Peterson allowed four receptions on nine targets for 73 yards and a score when lining up against Hopkins. Keeping Peterson at No. 1, though, because of his one-handed interception. I consider that a nice trade-off, and there's no doubt in my mind that Peterson is the league's best CB right now.
He continues to climb the ranks after picking off Brett Hundley and holding Davante Adams to 47 yards in coverage. Smith will have his hands full -- like Peterson did last week -- with DeAndre Hopkins. It doesn't matter if it's me, you or Tom Savage throwing Hopkins the ball, he's going to get his. Smith must be physical at the line of scrimmage and keep Hopkins out of the end zone.
Rhodes played exceptionally well against Sammy Watkins and the Rams in Week 11, but was given fits by Marvin Jones during the Thanksgiving Day opener. Jones got into the end zone twice vs. Rhodes, but Rhodes got the last laugh when he sealed the game with an interception.
I was surprised by how much Ramsey was thrown at by DeShone Kizer. On 11 targets, Ramsey gave up seven receptions for 83 yards -- 66 yards to Corey Coleman. Ramsey added six tackles and one pass defensed, continuing his red-hot sophomore season.
*(**UPDATE:** Ramsey injured his hand on practice on Friday and is listed as questionable for Sunday's game.)* </content:power-ranking>
The first-year Jaguar recorded an interception and allowed a 2.8 passer rating in coverage against the Browns. Most importantly, he still hasn't allowed a touchdown this season.
Norman held opposing receivers out of the end zone for two straight contests, including Thursday night's win over the Giants. He's playing well right now, and he'll have to continue to shut down receivers if Washington wants to squeak into the playoffs.
Johnson wasn't the issue in the Rams' loss to Minnesota, giving up just four receptions on eight targets for 32 yards in coverage. It was good enough to keep him in the top 10.
Harris is now the only Bronco in the top 10 after Bradley Roby gave up two TDs against the Bengals in Week 11. Harris was great, though, as he gave up just two receptions on four targets for 8 yards. Another tough matchup for the Broncos' CBs this week as they face Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree.
Lattimore did not practice on Thanksgiving Day, and we're still waiting to see if he will take the field this weekend in Los Angeles. If he plays, he's got a tough task in Sammy Watkins, who hasn't put up consistent numbers but can go off at any time. One piece of advice for the rookie: He had better make sure his hamstring is well rested, because Watkins will take advantage with his speed.
Trufant had a great day against Russell Wilson and the Seahawks, allowing three receptions on four targets for 28 yards. He also recorded a pick in the game, but I was most impressed by his tackling.
ON THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN: Casey Hayward, Chargers; Aqib Talib, Broncos; Jason McCourty, Browns; Adam Jones, Bengals; Tre'Davious White, Bills; Darius Slay, Lions; Marcus Peters, Chiefs; Janoris Jenkins, Giants.
WEEK 12 CORNERBACK DUOS: MY TOP THREE
The Jaguars' defense did not allow the Browns to throw any passes for 20 yards or more in the win. Even more impressive is the Jags haven't allowed a pass of 20 yards or more since Week 5. Bouye and Ramsey have been a huge part of that success. Between the two, they've allowed just one touchdown had six interceptions in coverage.
*Next up: at Arizona Cardinals, 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday.* </content:power-ranking>
The Rams face a more dynamic offense this week, with the Saints coming to town, than they did in Minnesota. Saints receiver Michael Thomas is a chain-mover, Ted Ginn Jr. is Brees' gadget guy and Willie Snead can do a little bit of everything. Johnson and Webster must be on their Ps and Qs, because we know Drew Brees is going to throw good, accurate balls.
*Next up: vs. New Orleans Saints, 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday.* </content:power-ranking>
After a dominating performance over the Packers, Smith and Carr must play well against DeAndre Hopkins in this game. If the duo can prevent Hopkins from getting into the end zone, consider the outing a success.
*Next up: vs. Houston Texans, 8:30 p.m. ET on Monday.* </content:power-ranking>
Cornerback tandems that just missed the cut: Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib, Broncos; Tre'Davious White and E.J. Gaines, Bills.