I remember seeing Terry Bradshaw’s final days and Mean Joe Greene’s too.
This is a natural occurrence and happens to every professional team regardless of the sport.
It is once again happening to the Pittsburgh Steelers and it won’t be as easy as many think it will be to fix.
Whether the Steelers somehow run the table, get the help they need and make the playoffs really won’t matter when addressing the secondary issues of the defense.
When you have one defensive back out of four who is growing old, there are things that can be done to cover up for his transgressions. When you have Troy Polamalu, Ryan Clark and Ike Taylor, there isn’t a blanket in the world big enough to cover up the issues these three have.
Many will argue that Polamalu is playing well this year and I don’t necessarily disagree. I feel however that it isn’t so much that he’s playing well as it is that he appears to be playing healthy.
While Polamalu looks as active as ever and he is, he has also blown his share of coverages that have resulted in big plays. Giving him a free pass because he’s “Troy Polamalu” isn’t fair to Taylor and Clark and we aren’t giving him a pass here.
Clark and Taylor have each regressed far beyond any point I dreamed possible as the season has worn on. Clark started missing tackles in game one and has really not recovered and that’s troubling. Clark has long been one of the bigger hitters and better tacklers at the safety spot in the NFL but not any longer.
His coverage skills have failed him too as he has routinely let receivers get behind him as he failed to give immediate help to cornerbacks.
Taylor’s demise has been a work of progress, if you will, that I believe started in the fateful wild-card playoff loss in Denver. He recovered quite a bit last year, but there were still chinks in his armor and those have been exposed even more in 2013.
Taylor will return in 2014 but in what capacity? I can’t imagine him not being a starting a corner next year but who knows? I strongly believe the Steelers will look to draft a corner within the first three rounds of next year’s draft.
Regardless of whether Taylor and/or Polamalu are back next year we pretty much know Clark won’t be. He’s a free agent and I see no reason to bring him back.
Fans love Shamarko Thomas but how successful should we expect him to be? Is Will Allen or Rob Golden an option or do the Steelers consider moving Cortez Allen to a safety position?
At this point, if we assume Clark and Polamalu are gone, the secondary will certainly get younger but how much better will it be if at all? Will Taylor be able to have a bounce-back season and is Cortez Allen the guy opposite him?
While we can hope, common sense tells us to not expect major changes or vast improvements in the Steelers’ secondary for 2014.
Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard Mondays on Trib-Live Radio at 630pm ET talking Steelers and is a blogger for ESPN 970 in Pittsburgh.