Artie Burns Credits Carnell Lake For Teaching Him How To Break Down Film


There has been quite a bit of discussion recently about Pittsburgh Steelers second-year cornerback Artie Burns…I can’t imagine for the life of me why. He is only the first cornerback that the Steelers have drafted in the first round in well over a decade, for starters.

He only emerged as a starter during his rookie season and shared in the team lead during the regular season with three interceptions, also finishing second with 13 passes defensed while only being a full-time starter for a little more than half of the season. So yeah, I’m not really sure why people would be so interested in him.

The team’s website, for example, just recently had him sit down for an interview with Missi Matthews, which they’ve broken down in a couple of segments, and which Alex Kozora already talked about a bit yesterday by referencing his desire to practice Jiu Jitsu during the offseason to help his game.

One of the topics that he talked about was the opportunity to work under Carnell Lake, who I’m sure virtually everybody reading this will know quite well why that is of note. Lake was a former safety for the Steelers who also played some cornerback. A multiple-time Pro Bowler, he was highly respected as a player, and the Steelers gave him his first coaching opportunity at the pro level, where he has served as the defensive backs coach since the 2011 season.

Lake has been a frequent target of criticism over the course of the past few years, though he did help the Steelers finish with the fewest passing yards allowed as a defense in each of his first two seasons with the team. The numbers dipped substantially since then as key players left or retired, but last season was seen as the beginning of an upswing with Burns and others.


So what was it like working with Lake? “It was fun”, Burns told Matthews. “Coach Lake’s got a cool personality. He played a long time in the game. He really helped me a lot dissecting the film, what to look at, what to expect in certain situations”, he said.

Lake is uniquely qualified to speak toward breaking down film due to the fact that he has over the course of his playing career played all over the secondary, and was also a linebacker in college, so he is able to understand the game from the mindset of several different points of view.

Of course, as we also recently noted, both of the Steelers’ rookie starting defensive backs paid homage to one of the members of the old guard in the secondary, Mike Mitchell, who has been like a second coach on the field.

But the ultimate responsibility falls upon Lake to make sure that his players are up to speed, and he deserves credit for getting not one, but two rookies ready to start, one of which even played two different positions. His next task will be to help them continue to grow—and perhaps even break in another rookie or two for playing time this year.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • John Bennett

    Carnell Lake was a great player and is a great coach. I’m glad we have him. Like any great craftsman, he can only be as good as the raw materials he has to work with.

  • Rob H

    Film study is exactly the thing I wanted to hear that he is locked in on, so I’m very happy that he specifically brought that up.
    Now, if I also hear that he’s working hard at improving his technique at OTA’s and camp, I’ll be positively giddy!
    As I posted in Alex’s piece yesterday, I would love to see him and Sutton to become fast friends, maybe they can make them roomie’s at training camp this year.

  • John Pennington

    Hope he gets with Sutton so he can teach him to break down film and show him where other players are suppose to be on plays and what their job is would only help is game

  • Carl Mendelius

    Can someone please tell me why is that the Steelers FO think their average secondary (because it didn’t improve much with Sutton and Allen) is gonna be able to beat a much improved New England passing attack now with WR Brandin Cooks, TE Dwayne Allen and the return of the best TE of all time Gronk? I mean the secondary was abused by Chris Hogan who is a mediocre WR.

  • nutty32

    “Lake was a former safety for the Steelers who also played some cornerback.”

    Understatement of the year. Let’s not forget how AMAZING it was for Lake to take over for Rod Woodson after Barry Sanders juked 26 out of his ACL AND lead the team back to the super bowl. That season started out really crappy before Lake switched over. Mind you, Lake was a pro bowl STRONG safety known mainly for run stuffing and blitzing at the time.

  • Milliken Steeler

    So before they even hit the field, you know how good Sutton and Allen are going to do? They said Sutton was going to be a first rounder if he came out after his Junior year and then he got hurt, which helped drop him to the third round. I think his situation is going to be similar to Aaron Colvins and the Jags a few years back. Colvin was a first rounder and then blew out his knee and the Jags snagged him in the fourth round I think? Now hes fully recovered and the Jags are benefiting. Sutton didn’t have that serious of an injury and he can play press coverage.

    Allen is tall and fast and just needs to continue to learn the position, so who knows how fast his maturation process will be however, he definitely has the size and athletic ability, to help the Steelers continue their changes in the secondary.

    You add Burns and Davis going into their second year now and Davis by the way came into the league in NFL shape which is rare and even Coach Tomlin pointed it out early in Camp. There is no reason to not expect those two to be better also. Thus, the secondary is improved. If Senquez is healthy and he should know the defense inside and out by now, this until could possibly take a big step forward.

  • VaDave

    As I’ve said, the best way to stop the Pats offense, is to keep them on the bench as much as possible while scoring touchdowns. Short of that, it’s DL pressure up the gut. Short of that, good luck.

  • VaDave

    It was remarkable that he made that switch so seamlessly. True, he was no Woodson ( Who is?), but hereally salvaged our prospects that year.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    Lake was a good player but is average as a coach.

  • Wayne’O

    Halarious to hear how all of these prognosticators know more about coaching a secondary, than someone who was actually in the league. But not only played in the league, but played for many years and was actually an All Pro in the league…………How to prepare your self on and off the field, how to study film, how to be a pro etc. Is a minor trait of Lake.

    Give this man some secondary talent and some decent pass rushers and then judge him. Outside of that I believe Carnell Lake forgot more football than half of his critics will ever know. IMO

  • “WC”

    Man, always the familiar if this and if that and can’t do this and can’t do that!

    Say for example, you just get a job. Do you want to excel in that job, or worry about if someone is gonna take it from you before you even get started, huh?

    It doesn’t matter who New England gets or anyone else for that matter, etc., because the games still have to be played on the freaking field!

    When the team (the Steelers) were the also rans of the NFL, the owners kept striving until they got better. I mean even God didn’t create the world in one day!

    So show some patience and just a bit of resolve. New England won fair and square. There is no shame in that. Yes we fans were disappointed and rightfully so, but there is no need to keep rehashing about it. Always blaming everyone on the team from the owners on down because you are pissed off the Steelers lost!. We all know what happened, so get over it and just let it go and build from it!

    I tell you, social media can at times just be a crock of dodo!

  • JB Burgess

    Below average. Check all of the confusion in the backfield the last three seasons. Below average coach. Nothing more.

  • DH

    5x pro bowler. 1st Team All Pro in ’97 (when he had SIX sacks). I’d say he was better than “good.”

  • Carl Mendelius

    The Steelers knew very well that the Pats are the team to beat and are much better with Cooks so, why rely on these good wishes with a 3rd and 5th round picks? The Steelers could have had Kevin King in the 1st round who is as tall and fast as Allen but much much better CB.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Do you like anything about the Steelers?

  • SfSteeler

    body blow…lol

  • Aj Gentile

    The ability to play man coverage?

  • Mark G Hunter

    If you can create pressure (TJ. Watt, Bud Dupree and the DL) that alone can make the secondary better. Sutton has talent. Allen is a project. Maybe he’s a sleeper, maybe he busts. Burns is gonna get better. Anything you get from Golson is a bonus. Have some faith it’ll all fall into place.

  • Mark G Hunter

    AMEN!!!