June 17, 2008

Inside the Mind of Ivan "Ike" Taylor...

While styling in my 2002 Hyundai Elantra on the Pennsylvania Turnpike last week, I got the chance to listen to Ike Taylor get interviewed on a show called The Red Zone (Sirius - Channel 124).

During the interview, Ike was asked questions regarding how the media in Pittsburgh continues to question the Steelers defensive backfield, what he thinks about other defensive backs' salaries around the league, and Troy Polamalu's rehab/training in California.

Due to my inability to handle the Hyundai's 4-cylinders of fury and write at the same time I could only do my best to commit Taylor's answers to memory. So, these are not exact quotes...rather, just the basic idea of his statements.

When asked about the Steelers media/fans constant concern and questioning of the defensive backfield, Ike responded by saying that if you look at the regular season statistics, the the Steelers were #3 in pass defense, and #1 in total defense. Taylor went on to talk about how well the entire defense works together and how hard he is working in the offseason to improve in all areas of his game, especially catching the football (He must be reading OFTOT...sorry about the Bill Buckner reference last month Ike).

Ike was then asked about how he feels as he sees cornerbacks, some not even as good, around the league receiving boatloads of money and record breaking contracts. Taylor said he was happy with the recent contract he signed and doesn't worry about how much other players are paid. He feels that the money will take care of itself if he performs at the top of his game. Taylor loves being under the "brand name," Pittsburgh Steelers, and working for the Rooney family. He went on to talk about the special relationship Rooney has with the players. Rooney being on hand to watch the players practice and developing personal relationships with each player beyond football allows Taylor to be content in Pittsburgh. Ike talked about how great the Steelers fans are, and how all of these factors weigh more heavily than a large contract on a bad team, in a situation where he might be disgruntled.

The final question was about Troy Polamalu training in California while other players were at OTA's on the South Side. Taylor responded by talking about how Polamalu, who is a native Californian, now makes his home in Pittsburgh. Ike talked about how other Steelers only live in Pittsburgh during the season. Ike says that Troy loves Pittsburgh, and is a seasoned veteran who knows his body, and knows whats best for him. Taylor has full confidence in Troy returning to training camp healthy. He said that none of the Steelers feel upset about Troy's "special treatment."

Overall, both myself and the hosts of the show were very impressed with Ike Taylor's mature mindset. Ike talked about feeling that he is a Pro Bowl caliber cornerback, and I'm not going to disagree. If Taylor can catch 75% of the balls that hit him in the hands, his game will go to the next level.

Personally, I'm not concerned about the Steelers secondary. Bryant McFadden and Deshea Townsend will be an interesting training camp battle to watch to see who will be the #2 cornerback behind Face Me Ike. A lot of people forget that William Gay played sparingly last year as a rookie and could make a larger impact in the 2008 season. We all know Polamalu will hold it down, and having experience such as Ryan Clark, Anthony Smith, and Tyrone Carter will solidify the Steelers safety position.

So, what do you guys think about Ike Taylor's interview? How do you feel about the Steelers secondary for 2008? What do you think about disgruntled players who demand more money in the middle of their contracts (ex. Chad Johnson)? What are your feelings about Troy training in California? Is there a better organization to play for besides the Steelers? Do you wish you too had a 2002 Hyundai Elantra?


Cotter said...

I'd say I have to agree that Ike came off as mature and intelligent.

Obviously he's a great fit in Pittsburgh and I love having him around. Of course, I wish he'd work on his catching ability. But that's why he's a DB and not a WR. I'm sure he'll improve.

As for the overall state of affairs in the secondary - I'd say McFadden better make a big push this year if he wants that payday come next off season. That said, I favor Deshea to earn the starting job. He's been solid even as he's gotten up in years. I'm not sure I'm ready to replace him just yet. But as training camp comes together I'm sure we'll see how this is going to pan out...

And no, I'm perfectly content with my 1997 Toyota Camry sedan thank you very much. I can seat a family of four comfortably...Too bad it's just me and my dog...and I'm a 26-year-old single dude...not a 40-year-old soccer mom.

Whatever, it's still pimp...

marc said...

I didn't hear the interview but that sounds good to me. I like Taylor, he's very solid, but his hands are terrible. I think the fact he didn't have many INTs also could have to do with QB pressure being a nonfactor in many games.
I think that holding out in the middle of your contract should be met with some kind of sanctions other than the slap on the wrist of the fines for missing camp. Maybe the sanction should be driving a four cyl Hyundai Elantra....

marc said...

Also what's the deal with "Ike Taylor's Entourage" the bar on south side? Anyone been there?

domski43 said...

Cotter - I'm still not sure who I want to see as the #2 cb behind Ike, but its a luxury to have 3 solid corners. I'm interested to see if/how much William Gay has progressed as well. BTW the Camry is definitely an upgrade from your last car.

Marc - I'm glad you brought up the issue of pressuring the qb. Even without pressure the defensive backfield held it down. Lets hope that with a healthy d-line and some youth at the linebacking core there will be more pressure on the qb causing more opportunities for turnovers.

I agree with you about the contract issues, these guys sign the contract and then a few years later want a new one!?! I understand that NFL careers are short and players want to make as much money as possible, but a contract is a contract. Allowing players to act like spoiled children and get their way only encourages this type of behavior across the league. There has to be more serious punishments, maybe they should have to drive one of the new beetles or a cabrio?

About Ike Taylor's Entourage, every time I drive past it I wonder the same thing. I wonder if he owns it or if its a place where he hangs out?