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 ...
It's pretty incredible that the Eagles sit at 5-1 with two backup cornerbacks on the field. Ronald Darby, a preseason trade acquisition, went down Week 1, but is back at practice. It's also noteworthy that we still might see rookie Sidney Jones in uniform after he ruptured his Achilles in March. The Eagles' secondary could look so different in a few months.
But for now, let's focus on the two players who've been on the field for Philly, which has surprisingly displayed its depth. Second-year pro Mills (6-foot, 191 pounds) and rookie Douglas (6-2, 209 pounds) are big cornerbacks who have taken advantage of their opportunity. They've been covering well and are solid tacklers. Per Next Gen Stats, Douglas has allowed 17 receptions on 29 targets for 260 yards (15.2 yards per catch) and has deflected six passes while owning a 1:2 touchdown-to-interception ratio in coverage. Mills has given up 33 catches on 53 targets for 347 yards (10.5 yards per catch) and recorded nine passes defensed and a 3:2 TD-to-INT ratio. These guys are getting a ton of targets and are holding their own with as many picks as touchdowns allowed. They've made mistakes, but have stepped up in a big way.
On Monday, Philly faces Washington for the second time this season. Redskins pass catchers (Terrelle Pryor, Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis, Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson) have yet to have huge game performances in 2017. This young Eagles' tandem must mind their p's and q's to keep any of these players from having their breakout game.
Week 7 cornerback rankings: My top 10
Targeted only once by Eli Manning in Week 6, Talib continues to be respected by rookie and veteran quarterbacks alike. With another quarterback from the 2004 draft class next on the docket, Talib knows the kind of threat Philip Rivers is. The Chargers boast a diverse group of wideouts: possession receiver Keenan Allen, deep threat Travis Benjamin and a pair of gifted tight ends in Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry. If the Broncos get caught sleeping, Los Angeles will take full advantage.
This week's matchup vs. the Giants had all of the ingredients to be great: Sherman vs. Odell Beckham Jr. Sherman vs. Brandon Marshall. Sherman vs. Sterling Shepard. It was all good. Even against that trio of talent, I would've taken Sherman. Now, Shepard's the only one who even *might* hit the field. The All-Pro cornerback and the Seahawks' defense still must play honest because there's no one go-to guy in Giants coordinator Mike Sullivan's offense.
Peterson won his matchup against Mike Evans on Sunday -- in which they lined up across one another on 47 snaps -- holding the dynamic receiver to zero catches on four targets. Peterson left the game in the second half with a quad injury, and that's when Evans got almost all of his production (three catches for 95 yards and a TD). Peterson said Wednesday that he'll be ready for this weekend's bout vs. the Rams at Twickenham Stadium. If Peterson does play, I think he'll line up across Cooper Kupp and the rest of the Cardinals will play zone.
The Vikings held the Packers to 227 yards of total offense, their fewest in a game since Week 16 of 2015 -- of course, Aaron Rodgers exited the game in the first quarter with a broken collarbone. Minnesota picked off backup quarterback Brett Hundley three times, one of which was an athletic, one-handed grab by Rhodes after the ball was tipped. It was Rhodes' first interception of the season, but he's likely to get an opportunity for his second Sunday against Joe Flacco, who has thrown four touchdowns against eight interceptions in 2017.
Harris had a solid performance in his 100th regular-season game Sunday night, allowing one reception for 26 yards to rookie tight end Evan Engram. However, his accomplishment was met with disappointment, as the Giants topped the Broncos at Mile High Stadium. Now heading to play a divisional foe on the road, Harris and Co. can't overlook anyone. As I said above, the Chargers have plenty of weapons for Rivers to dish the ball to. Harris can't take a play off Sunday or it could catch up with him.
Smith was targeted just once for the second straight week and didn't allow a catch in Baltimore's overtime loss. The Ravens held Mitchell Trubisky to just eight completions for 113 passing yards -- a great performance for the secondary -- but really struggled against the run, giving up 231 yards on the ground. Looking ahead to Week 7, Smith and Co. must keep a (surprising at times) Minnesota passing attack at bay.
Ramsey gave up just one reception for 10 yards to Robert Woods in Week 6. I didn't expect Ramsey to let down against Los Angeles, but T.Y. Hilton is another animal. Hilton's a three-time Pro Bowler and is second in the NFL in receiving yards since 2016 with 1,933. However, in their two meetings last year, Ramsey held Hilton to six catches on 10 targets for 76 yards and had one pass defensed over 49 pass plays in coverage. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Keep Ramsey on this guy and let A.J. Bouye and Co. handle the rest.
The Jaguars struck gold when they signed A.J. Bouye in the offseason. He's been the perfect complement to sophomore cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Of the 77 defensive players who have been targeted at least 25 times this season, Bouye has the lowest passer rating allowed in coverage (39.2). The Jaguars' defense has been a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks, holding them to a 59.3 passer rating (worst in the NFL). With Indy's Jacoby Brissett ranking 26th in the league in passer rating (81.1) this season, I'm not going to hold my breath that he'll improve in that respect this week.
Coming off a bye, Jones jumps right back into the fire as the Bengals travel to face division-rival Pittsburgh. Antonio Brown, who is averaging 116.7 receiving yards per game, poses a huge challenge for Pacman. There's no doubt Brown will get his targets and catches, but Jones has to tackle the catch and limit the big plays.
Johnson's focus shouldn't change from last week's game plan -- helping the Rams' defense stop Leonard Fournette and the Jags' run game. This week against the Cardinals, it'll be necessary for Johnson to tackle, as Arizona coach Bruce Arians is likely to stick to his run-first scheme with his new toy (Adrian Peterson). Arizona's passing game has been inconsistent -- Larry Fitzgerald, lining up on the inside, will be covered by safeties. That leaves Johnson to focus primarily on tackling Peterson if he gets to the second level.
WEEK 7 CORNERBACK DUOS: MY TOP THREE
At the beginning of the season, who would've guessed that the Broncos would lose to a Giants team without its top three receivers at home?! Not this guy. A lot of the Giants' success came by way of running back Orleans Darkwa, as Eli Manning almost entirely avoided this tandem. Talib and Harris were each targeted once, with Harris giving up a catch for 26 yards. As impressed as I am with the Jaguars' duo below, these Broncos aren't relinquishing the No. 1 spot just yet.
*Next up: at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday.* </content:power-ranking>
In the Jags' loss to L.A., Bouye and Ramsey allowed a combined 43 yards. These two are fun to watch, as they continue to hold it down in the secondary. On nine contested targets this season, Bouye hasn't allowed a single catch but has a pair of interceptions, per Pro Football Focus. Ramsey has given up two receptions for 58 yards and also has two picks on 12 contested targets. That's pretty dang good.
*Next up: at Indianapolis Colts, 1 p.m. ET on Sunday.* </content:power-ranking>
The Steelers rank first in the league in pass defense, thanks to their pass rush and an improved secondary. Haden continued to play at a high level against the Chiefs and kept Tyreek Hill quiet. Hill finished with two receptions for 15 yards against Haden in coverage. Burns allowed a touchdown to De'Anthony Thomas on a play in which Alex Smith scrambled out of the pocket. The sophomore cornerback has to stay plastered to the receiver and he can't miss tackles.
I debated about moving Minnesota into the third spot because Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes are playing with a ton of confidence right now. But the Steelers are still playing good ball. If Burns has another pedestrian week, the Vikings' tandem might knock my boys off.
*Next up: vs. Cincinnati Bengals, 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday.* </content:power-ranking>