The early portion of the 2023 season has not been kind to veteran Pittsburgh Steelers cornerbacks Levi Wallace and Patrick Peterson.
In the first six games of the season, Peterson and Wallace have combined to allow 684 receiving yards and eight touchdowns on 46 receptions, according to Pro Football Reference. Those 684 yards make up 44% of the passing yards the Steelers have given up this season, and the eight passing touchdowns are 88% of the touchdowns the Steelers have given up through the air.
Those are some ugly numbers. To the Steelers’ credit coming out of Week Seven on the road against the Los Angeles Rams, Pittsburgh started to make some changes on the field, pushing Wallace to the bench in some situations and sliding Peterson to the slot, allowing rookie cornerback Joey Porter Jr. to see the field consistently.
Despite some of those changes, former Steelers offensive lineman Willie Colon had significant criticism for Peterson and Wallace Thursday on The Carton Show with hosts Craig Carton and David Jacoby. Colon, who played for the Steelers from 2006-12, stated that Peterson and Wallace “are stealing money right now” from the Steelers with their poor play.
“If I’m worried about anything [ahead of Jaguars game], it’s this run defense for the Pittsburgh Steelers because Travis Etienne is starting to come alive. So for me, if I’m this run defense for the Pittsburgh Steelers, you’re going to have to knuckle up,” Colon said regarding the Steelers’ defense ahead of the matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars. “I’m not worried about the pass rush; you know they can get home. They’ve got to be better in the secondary because Levi Wallace and Patrick Peterson, they’re stealing money right now! But overall, this defense knows how to win. They’ve got to get it done against Jacksonville.”
Seems a bit harsh from Colon, who knows a thing or two about some struggles in a Steelers uniform. It’s not as if Peterson and Wallace are going through the motions. They’re trying, competing on every snap. Problem is, they’re just not good enough right now.
It’s showing time and time again on the field.
Wallace has allowed 401 receiving yards himself on an average depth of target of 14.6 yards, which is the highest mark on the team. He’s allowed a completion percentage of just 58.7%, but quarterbacks have a 98.2 passer rating when targeting him.
The numbers aren’t much better for Peterson. He’s allowed 281 yards on the season with an average depth of target of is just 9.9 yards, but quarterbacks have a 112.8 passer rating against when targeting Peterson.
They’ve been rather rough early in the season, though there might be some hope for better play as the team continues to get healthy defensively and with Peterson moving into a more hybrid role. But there’s no denying that the numbers are ugly from the pair of veteran cornerbacks, who haven’t been what the Steelers were hoping for on the year.