Bad Hands And All, New Steelers WR Darrius Heyward-Bey Still An Explosive Play Threat

The first thing that comes to your mind when you think about new Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey is dropped passes. The second thing that you think about, however, is his speed and throughout his career he has shown what a weapon it is.

Since coming into the league as a first-round draft pick in 2009, Heyward-Bey has registered 31 explosive plays of 20 yards of more and that’s 18.3% of his 169 career catches. He would have a lot more if only he were able to hold on to the football.

Last season with the Indianapolis Colts, Heyward-Bey registered two explosive plays of 20 yards or more and below is a look at both of those plays in animated gif form.

Against the Denver Broncos early in the 2013 season, Heward-Bey easily split the defense down the seem against a quarters coverage look for a big explosive play. The most encouraging thing about this play is that he holds on to the football after taking a hit following the catch. You can a better view of that in the second gif.

While we don’t know for sure, it looks like Heyward-Bey recognizes the corner blitz on this play against the Tennessee Titans. Heyward-Bey breaks free uncontested to his left on a shallow slant for an easy catch. You would like to see him win the race to the corner after the catch, but this play still goes for more than 20 yards just the same.

In 2012 as a member f the Oakland Raiders, Heyward-Bey had quite a few explosive plays. In this gif below, he turns around Jacksonville Jaguars veteran cornerback Rashean Mathis with a double-move and the easy reception goes for another explosive play.

Against the Broncos in 2012, Heyward-Bey turns a simple out route reception and missed tackle into a 50-plus yard touchdown. 39 of those yards came after the catch.

In the Raiders game against the Baltimore Ravens in 2012, Heyward-Bey breaks a poor tackle attempt by safety Ed Reed for anther 50-plus yard touchdown. 36 of these yards came after contact.

In order to fix Heyward-Bey’s drop problem, perhaps the Steelers should consider having his left arm tied behind his back. As you can see in these two gifs of a catch against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2012, Heyward-Bey makes a great explosive play catch against decent coverage. Yes, he did need that left arm to avoid dropping the pass, so maybe tying it behind his back isn’t the best idea after all.

While still not a great route runner, Heyward-Bey’s speed still needs to be respected even though he’s developed a reputation of not having great hands. He can still easily flip the field via an explosive play.

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • Douglas Andrews

    And that’s why i like the signing Dave. He can give us big play potential something we didn’t have last year without M Wallace. I could be wrong but I gotta gut feeling that Coach Mann might be able to fix those drops.

  • SteelersDepot

    I respect your optimism, but outside of doing a successful exorcism, Mann will have his hands full fixing Bey Bey’s hands. Track record is a track record.

  • Douglas Andrews

    I’m not expecting any kind of breakout year for him at 27 but it’s hard not to be optimistic with that 4.3 speed. At this point in his career maybe the only thing that will help with those drops is some couch time with the head shrink. I’ve seen it work in baseball.

  • CW

    Great speed and terrible hands…

    Well if he can make a free safety or a deep corner bite on a fly route every once in a while and clear out room for Brown, Wheaton, Bell, and Moye to actually make the catch great.

  • JAMESH

    ….and don’t leave out Ebron………….

  • Babybull

    If you can’t catch you have no big play potential stop it if it was another team signing we would be laughing we got on sanders for dropping 3 but brown dropped 7 no one said anything we will miss sanders these guys were picking up lately are bums if Cleveland picked these guys up we would be talking bad about them this team the way it looks now will have a top ten draft pick next year an if that the case Colbert an tomlin should be fired

  • Kurt Williams

    Can’t hurt, it’s not as if he’ll be taking playing time away from AB and Wheaton, and Moore. If he does, then shame on the referenced three. Hopefully he can contribute, If not no loss.

  • Johnny Loose

    That double move on Mathis was a TERRIBLE route lol. Either way, I’m interested in seeing what this guy can do in camp. He’s a team player w/ no character concerns and I always root for a guy like that..

  • Jason

    Go on some Saint’s message boards and see what they think about Moore leaving. He’s hardly a bum. And please find the period button on your keyboard. I’ve read many of your post and all are negative. You are entitled to your opinion but if you hate everything the front office does perhaps you’d have better luck rooting for Cleveland or another franchise that has had way more success than the Steelers.

  • Jeff

    There’s no doubt that this signing is about potential and upside based on his speed and pushing our young wideouts. That being said, other than his best season (63 catches, 975 yards, 4tds) which was with Carson Palmer and last year with Luck which I really don’t count as he signed right before the season started and was trying to learn the offense, he has been thrown to by dumpster fires at QB for the rest of his career. Exchange them for Ben and give him the offseason and training camp to learn the playbook, it is entirely possible he has a season similar to his best or better. At the very least a 4.3 second 40 at KR / PR will be helpful on special teams.

  • Ken

    Dwight Stone

  • Bob

    You really want someone that’s biggest problem seems to be dropping the ball returning punts and kick? I might try him there early in camp, but he’d have to catch everything thrown his way all off/pre-season for me to even consider letting him do it in a game that counts. He drops a pass, you may have to punt, he drops a return, you likely lose possession with the other team in scoring range.

  • 20Stoney

    That’s right. A defense has to cover him. I see nothing wrong with having the guy as a 4th or 5th receiver if he wins the job.

  • Jeff

    Always a danger, but its a different type of catching…. AB will probably still handle PR anyway…. but as KR you could do alot worse than DHB. Remember Felix Jones and Jon Dwyer back there last season?

  • Bob

    Different type of catching, that’s true. However, that he has no experience returning would tend to indicate that there is a reason no coach has put him there. With that speed, you know every coach he’s had thought “big returns” would be likely, yet he never did it. Since it is not speed, willingness to do it, or work ethic that has kept him from returns, ya gotta think… hands

  • Callentown

    Just ugh..

  • http://pittsburghsportsinat.blogspot.com/ bgsteelfan

    Getting open isn’t his problem. Catching the ball is. At least he can block… (Sweed 2.0 anyone?)

    I hope it turns out but I am not holding my breath that a guy that averages 2.4 TDs a year suddenly turns into a home run threat.

  • http://pittsburghsportsinat.blogspot.com/ bgsteelfan

    Just what I was going to say. Why has a guy with that speed never returned a kick in his career? There has to be a reason. Even if he just has straight-line speed he has the chance to outrun the coverage.

  • http://pittsburghsportsinat.blogspot.com/ bgsteelfan

    I think it’s a big success on his part if he even makes the final roster.

  • Big White

    I think it is pretty clear that the Steelers have officially told Big Ben “no” to his request for a new tall athletic target. The only other place get one would be the draft, and the signing of Lance Moore and now Heyward-Bey almost certainly means they want one of the top two cornerbacks in round one.

  • SteelersDepot

    um, this is false. this is a depth move with no guarantee he makes the roster.

  • Big White

    That 1st Round pick will be Gilbert, Denard or an outside shot for LB C.J. Mosley to play opposite Timmons. Bank it.

  • RyanW

    Agree with you 100% Dave. Purely a depth move. I still think were going CB/WR in rounds 1 and 2

  • RyanW

    And that doesnt mean they told Ben know. They do have more than 1 draft pick you know. There is more than 1 round.

  • WilliamSekinger

    Hardly Sweed 2.0. This kid was picked up for the NFL equivalent of pocket change.

  • Ribs Dixon

    If he ever learns to catch with his hands and not fight the ball, DHB could be a decent WR. Unfortunately he’s no spring chicken but here’s hoping he puts it together

  • Callentown

    Man, I sure hope so!! We need those players badly

  • Douglas Andrews

    At least he knows with the Steelers that nothing is being given so he’ll have to come in and work his tail off.

  • http://pittsburghsportsinat.blogspot.com/ bgsteelfan

    What does his contract have to do with a comparison of skill sets? I didn’t say anything about what we are paying him. It’s no risk to try him out.

  • http://pittsburghsportsinat.blogspot.com/ bgsteelfan

    How do you figure? DHB isn’t short, but he’s not exactly a “Tall” WR. This signing will likely not affect the draft at all.

  • http://pittsburghsportsinat.blogspot.com/ bgsteelfan

    True. From what I’ve heard, work ethic wasn’t an issue in Indy either, so there is that.

  • WilliamSekinger

    Sweed had a skill set to compare to? He could never get on the field…

  • Douglas Andrews

    That’s great the more guys the Steelers sign that create competition the better. I think the FO is onto something this year. Outside of the DL which is pretty thin we have some decent depth going into the draft.

  • http://pittsburghsportsinat.blogspot.com/ bgsteelfan

    LOL, so it’s an extremely limited sample set…

    Both of them could get open. Both had good size. Both could block. Neither excels in one teensie aspect of playing WR: catching the darn ball.

  • http://pittsburghsportsinat.blogspot.com/ bgsteelfan

    That part I like. Too long they’ve had entrenched starters with no chance for other guys to get reps.

  • Big White

    The only guys on the board that might qualify as “tall, athletic” might be are Benjamin, Evans, Ebron, and perhaps Robinson. Evans will be gone by the 15 pick, we already have Miller so why draft Ebron, which leaves Benjamin and Robinson. Benjamin CANNOT be drafted over Denard or Moseley and won’t last til Rd 2. Don’t know much about Robinson.

  • Matt Manzo

    I’d like to see the drills they have for improving catching! I bet there’s some crazy ones in there, like a blindfolded Daniel-son one?!

  • Skinny Merlino

    I don’t get why people are upset about dhb signing it’s no risk at all with a decent reward if he gets a shot I mean he was a 1st round pick even if he was drafted way to high he was still a 2nd round talent at worst if I recall correctly still fairly young and still flashes some potential I like the signing tbh

  • steelster

    Jordan Matthews is 6′ 3″ and has good hands.

  • steelster

    With dhb you pretty much know what you are getting and he uses a roster spot. With a rookie or younger player with potential, you have a player that can catch the ball.

  • http://batman-news.com MC

    Even if he doesn’t have the best hands, he can still stretch the field and make safeties account for him on any given play which can open things up for our other receivers.
    Dont forget the ability to hand the ball off to him on a WR reverse. Something they tried to do with Cotchery once and it failed miserable cause of his lack of speed.

  • steelster

    He dropped the pen twice when signing the contract.

  • steelster

    Wheaton was excellent in college on the reverse.

  • Rick Hankey

    Just watched some highlights from Jordan Matthews, man dude has some impressive hands.

  • http://batman-news.com MC

    Wouldn’t mind seeing a double receiver reverse and then the defense have to decide between Wheaton or DHB in split seconds.
    Then run the play again but throw it deep to brown running a streak behind the coverage.

  • IckyD

    It’s easy to be inconsistent on a team like Oakland. I’m not really sure why he didn’t click w/Luck, but maybe his struggles catching are starting to make him try too hard to make the plays and that can often have the opposite effect, particularly with a demanding personality like Andrew Luck’s firebrand leadership style; it could be that Ben’s more laid-back style might help?

    DHB has never been with a solid franchise and had a situation like this where he isn’t expected to instantly become a star. From all reports he’s a football player: willing to volunteer for ST after losing a starting job as well as making some Hines-worthy blocks at times. He must still have desire or I doubt the Steelers would’ve signed him.

    Maybe with a little luck and a lot of coaching the kid can finally put it all together.

  • IckyD

    Have you ever heard of “punctuation”?

    If you learn to use it you might not look stupid while being wrong.

    Now get back under your bridge…

  • IckyD

    If he’ll tackle as a gunner on STs he could be a huge asset there alone, and if he starts catching the passes he’s thrown as well it’s just icing on the cupcake!

  • Douglas Andrews

    Agreed I think he’ll shine with us because of the reasons you just stated. Who knows with some coaching and competition we just might be able to bring out the best in DHB. It’s definitely gonna be an interesting training camp to watch some of the camp battles.

  • Babybull

    All the passes he was dropping were from luck stop making excuses he’s a bum

  • Babybull

    They got him to help build the stadium add on he already has the bricks in his hands LOL.

  • Babybull

    Long as you come with me tough guy

  • Babybull

    I’m a steeler fan in have my opinion like you do so don’t get mad when you don’t agree with it these pickups are bad.

  • Rubem Dornas

    Each new day and roster moves I become more convinced that first round will be DE.

  • Doug Sawyer

    you mean Benjamin

  • Doug Sawyer

    Benjamin it is

  • steelster

    Benjamin is like most big receivers and may have a lot of problems with separation at the nfl level.

  • Steve

    After what we been looking at, Bey has great speed but he has a concentration problem when he drops the ball. If Mann can get him to look the ball into his arms, Bey sure has the afterburners to get in the end zone.

  • Xclewsive

    Mann had issues getting Sanders hands consistent. DHB is what he is and only DHB can really fix his issues. It’s not like Mann is gonna tell DHB something he hasn’t already heard or tried.

  • Brendon Glad

    I don’t know how a guy can be called an explosive play threat when he has 31 plays of 20 plus yards in 5 seasons. And 2 in an 18 game season last year. And yep, I’m disregarding all injuries because much like Plaxico Burress’s body-breakdowns have made him of zero value…I’m not going to change rules for Heyward-Bey. So he averages 1 20 yard catch every 3 games for his career. On teams who constantly were behind big…(even the Colts were last year if you remember….constantly down huge and slinging the ball like crazy to catch up)…where was Heyward-Bey?

  • steelster

    exactly, well said.

  • Brendon Glad

    I think if he just works out with Ike in the offseason, that he can get it fixed. Ba-dum-CHHHHH!!!! I’m sorry, Ike….I still love ya, but I just had to…cuz drops drive me insane. :-)

  • mlc43

    He doesnt use a roster spot. He can still be cut. Hes competition! He is fast and big and willing to play special teams. Let him be a camp body and see what happens

  • mlc43

    Um…maybe because Miller is a thousand football years old!!!!

  • Simon Cutts

    Wallace had abysmal hands too, but the other team had to account for him anyway which opened up space for everyone else. That and the odd deep ball TD made wallace useful to the offense. This guy can fill the same role. it is his speed, not his hands that could help big ben, brown, heath et al

  • Jason

    I know you have your opinion which is why I said “you are entitled to your opinion” in my post. I’m curious to know what you’ve had done differently this off season provided our cap situation. Not trying to be a smart ass but you seem to always insult the decision making but never give better solutions. Care to offer any?

  • Jason

    I agree. The man has likely been playing football for almost 20 years if he can’t catch by now probably not gonna happen. Although Tiki Barber was a fumbling machine until he was taught a different style then he became pretty secure with the ball. Maybe not the same thing but….

  • Steeler Wheeler

    Speed and no hands, and willing to play ST. How is that not an upgrade over Emanual Sanders (some speed, no hands, terrible ST player).

  • Big White

    No offense to Jimmy Graham, but Heath Miller the last six games of the season was as good as ANY tight end in the game.

  • sean mcmartin

    former 1st rounder with speed brought in to camp..nothing wrong with that.. odds are against him, but maybe…

  • mlc43

    That may be…but he’s still O L D. He has a couple years left..maybe. Drafting a match up nightmare TE is one of the best things the Steelers can do this draft. Still, I’m in favor of one of the CBs if they are still on the board.

  • Xclewsive

    Catching the football is concentration and want to! If either of those lack which they did a lot last season for DHB then there will be drop passes. Tiki just held the ball different not much goes into that. Catching the ball is something completely different like Ike Taylor catching Ints.