If the Washington Football Team is going to hand the Steelers their first loss of the year this Monday, they're going to have to limit Ben Roethlisberger.
And if they're going to limit Ben Roethlisberger, they're going to need to avoid tipping their hand when it comes to their defensive setups, especially in the secondary. That's what Kendall Fuller told reporters on Wednesday.
One day after Fuller's presser, the Washington Football Talk podcast brought on ex-Steeler Ike Taylor to discuss the upcoming matchup at Heinz Field. Seeing as Taylor is a former corner and one who shared a locker room and a practice field with Big Ben for more than a decade, he was the perfect person to ask: How in the hell can the Burgundy and Gold attempt to fool a quarterback who's played in 229 contests in his career?
"It's hard," Taylor began.
When responding to the question, Taylor recalled a day where Peyton Manning and the Colts easily triumphed over the Steelers' defense, in large part because Taylor's unit struggled badly. After that loss, legendary coordinator Dick LeBeau noticed that Manning was making his pre-snap reads based on the secondary's alignment, as opposed to the linebackers or defensive line like a lot of passers do.
So, when the two clubs met again in the playoffs, Taylor and Co. made sure to not give Manning any hints as to what they were doing.
"We disguised and we held until the last three seconds," he said.
Pittsburgh took down Indy in that rematch and eventually won the Super Bowl.
So, there you go, right? As long as Fuller, Kam Curl, Ronald Darby and others remain calm and don't show Roethlisberger too much, they'll leave Pennsylvania with their third-straight victory? Cool, let's do it.
"All four guys in the secondary have got to be on the same page," Taylor said. "When you don't have a group of guys who have been together for so long, and they're still trying to gel, one of those guys is going to get itchy. One of those guys isn't going to trust what the coach has been telling them all week."
Therein lies a problem for Jack Del Rio and his back end. While Taylor was lining up with the likes of Troy Polamalu and Deshea Towsend, guys he had grown comfortable with season after season, Washington doesn't have that sort of experience on their roster. That means Fuller, a Super Bowl champ, will likely have to take the lead on Monday, and Curl, Troy Apke and Jeremy Reaves will need to perform well above what's expected of them.
"7 has pretty much seen it all," Taylor said.
Well, it's in Washington's best interest that he doesn't see too much in Week 13.