He also was the example of a coaching moment for new Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton. According to the story, in practice, McFadden was cover a receiver down the field and when the ball was thrown never turned around to locate it. After being chastised for that, he said that he was told to do it that way in Arizona. Horton corrected this technique.
Did that work to make McFadden a better cornerback in 2010?
Not exactly. In some ways, he covered better for Arizona in 2009 than for Pittsburgh in 2010.
As a Cardinals player in 2009, he was targeted 127 times and gave up 77 receptions, a 60.6 percent rate of completion against him.
In 2010, he was targeted 120 times and gave up 81 receptions. That rate is 67.5 percent.
In both cases, it is not great. Yes, he is the weaker corner opposite Ike Taylor, but he was in the same boat here opposite DRC.
The one thing that is noticeably different is how many yards he gave up. In 2009, he gave up over 1000 yards, an average of 13.5 yards per catch.
In 2010, he slowed much less -- 877 -- an average of 10.8 yards per reception allowed.
His tackling stats were almost identical. He had 80 solo tackles and one assist in 2009. In 2010, he had 76 solo tackles and five assists -- 81 total each season. He missed five tackles both seasons.
I don't know if he was utilized differently in the Steelers' system, but his results were mixed under Horton. If he was down the field the same amount as with the Cardinals in coverage, he improved at defending deep passes, as noted in his yards allowed. However, he did not improve in coverage in general.
I do not wish to imply that Horton will not get improved play out of his new defensive players, but McFadden did not magically become a shutdown corner. We should not expect magic out of Horton.
What does everyone else think?