Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Is Mcfadden being overlooked in the resergence of the defense?

When Bryant Mcfadden left to sign with the Arizona Cardinals after the 2008 season, I didn't bat much of an eye. I concluded, much like with Randle El and Chris Hope in earlier seasons, his asking price was just way too high. And the way Willie Gay performed in '08 filling in for Mcfadden and as the number 3 corner, I figured Gay would make the transition to starter quite nicely. It was a sound business decision to let Bmac go, right? I mentioned Hope. When he left after the '05 season, they signed Ryan Clark. Not too much was made of Clark's signing initially, but over time, he proved to be an upgrade over the steady Hope and a very important contributor during the 2008 Super Bowl run. And Santonio Holmes was another example of the Steelers just replacing a piece in the machinery. El left for the Redskins and a huge contract, and the Steelers drafted Holmes that offseason. He not only proved to be an upgrade over Randle El as the number 2 receiver, but would go on to have a playoff run for the ages, making big play after big play in Pittsburgh's march to their sixth championship.

So, you see, the Steelers almost always make the right call with their free agents. Gay replacing Mcfadden would just be another example of that, right? Wrong!

I know the Steeler secondary suffered greatly by the absence of Troy Polamalu. Only a fool would say otherwise, but Troy or no Troy, William Gay was not ready to start as an NFL corner last year and it showed each and every week as opposing quarterbacks picked on him and victimized him the entire year.

Little did we know, the Steelers, who seldom if ever bring back players who previously left, would be feeling nostaglic in the offeason and were looking to do business with some of their former heroes. Randle El was re-signed to compete for the number 3 receiver spot, and Larry Foote, who couldn't wait to get out of here because he didn't want to be a back up, found that starting for the hopeless Detroit Lions wasn't much fun.

And just when the surprise of those signings had finally worn off, day 2 of the NFL draft saw the Steelers trading a lower round pick to the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for Bryant Mcfadden.

I was super-excited for this. They had a bona fide starting cornerback to go along with Ike Taylor.

Little did I know that Mcfadden had a less than stellar '09 season in Arizona, and he didn't look that great in camp this Summer. 2nd year corner, Keenan Lewis, showed so much promise in Latrobe that the coaches gave him quite the look in the 3rd preseason game in Denver. That was all they needed to see. There was no doubt that Mcfadden was going to start the year as the team's number 2 cornerback.

To be honest, I didn't know what to expect. If he struggled last year in Arizona and didn't look so hot in camp, how badly was he going to play once the games counted?

Well, no need to worry. For my money, Bryant Mcfadden has been an unsung hero for the Steeler defense through the first 3 games. He's been a steady cover guy, a sure tackler in the run-defense, and he even made a spectacular interception in the second half of the Tennessee game. For a secondary that didn't have a pick from a cornerback until the last game in Miami last year, that was a welcome sight. I mean, how many easy interceptions did the Steeler DB's drop last year? Heck, Ike dropped one just the other day, but I'll let him slide because he's Ike.

Mcfadden has allowed Gay to return to his former role as a nickle corner, a role in which he appears to be excelling.

Getting Mcfadden back demonstrates, to me, the team's willingness to correct a mistake.

Bmac is back and the secondary is better for it.

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