Film Room: Artie Burns Still Growing

When looking upon the early beginnings of Artie Burns’ second season in the NFL, his body of work through three games with the Pittsburgh Steelers is not without blemish, but there is also evident growth, both in the mental and physical aspects of the game.

The former first-round pick is much quicker to diagnose plays and respond to them, and he has also gotten stronger and more aggressive. At the same time, he is still drawing penalties on a weekly basis, and some of his run fills on Sunday were not pretty.

But then there are plays like this, a screen pass early in the game, with the Bears bunching three receivers to the left. Burns and Mike Hilton both played it very well, ultimately forcing the receiver to try to work his way back inside, but the cornerback was there to finish the tackle for no gain.

Later on, toward the end of the third quarter, he was playing off-coverage against Markus Wheaton on third and long. Wheaton got him breaking outside briefly at the top of an in route, but Burns recovered quickly and did a great job of getting in front of the pass to break it up. His good work was unfortunately undone by a questionable roughing the passer call.

That wasn’t the only time Wheaton was targeted with Burns in coverage. Late in the first half, the ball his way on a go route. Burns got a little punch in at the line, but Wheaton did get behind him a bit. He got away with a bit of pass interference here, but he did recover well. While he couldn’t reach the ball, he did bat Wheaton’s hand to prevent him from closing both on the ball.

But unfortunately the overtime period was as ugly for him as it was for everybody else on the Steelers’ defense. He clearly lost his assignment on the third play of the period, an 18-yard run, trying to play the perimeter but falling trying to recover as the back cut inside. You can tell from Anthony Chickillo’s reaction—throwing his arms up and shaking his head at Burns—whose mistake this was. Chickillo had the perimeter. Burns didn’t fill.

To top things off, he was a victim of a hold on the game-ending play one snap later, which was in full view of the goal line judge. I really still don’t understand how this one wasn’t called.

The important thing to remember with a player like Burns is that he is still a really young player who is continuing to develop and mature on the fly. He has undoubtedly made notable progress, but there are still important areas to work on.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • Ace

    I’m sorry but all I can focus on is that last GIF where Howard has a 15 yard hole to run through and one guy to beat to the end zone. Mitchel backpedaling at the snap, waits until Howard has already taken the ball from Glennon and made his cutback before moving forward towards the action, and then MM runs up at a terrible angle, gets blown by, give’s up the outside without forcing a cutback toward his help, then tries to push him out at the 1 foot line. Worst effort ever.

  • ryan72384

    A little bit of pass interference lol. He was grabbing holding but the important thing is he had his head turned around and tried to play the ball. Probably why it wasn’t called. I don’t think I’ve seen a Steeler corner with his head turned while running stride for stride down the field with a reciever since maybe Woodson in the Super Bowl against the Cowboys.

  • Charles Mullins

    how about that hold on wilcox on the second to last play.

  • Anthony Palmerston

    I’ve been feeling like all of Burns’ “good plays” have been borderline PI calls.

  • mem359

    But think about all the non-calls for CBs against the Steelers’ WRs (like Sherman shoving AB to the ground). If Burns gets flagged for borderline plays, presumably so will the other team. He is learning what the refs will call and what they won’t (and what amount of pushing the opposing WRs can get away with).

  • Jeff Burton

    Burns and Haden are quickly developing into one of the best CB duos in the league. It’s not the passing game that beat us in Chicago.

  • Steel Realist PAul

    To be succinct, I believe Burns is likely to be the number two CB as his best fit.

  • WreckIess

    I mean. that’s what he’s supposed to do. He’s the single high safety so he’s playing pass first. He can’t commit that gap because A. It’s not his to commit to. B. he has to watch out for play action of a trick play and if he overplays the run he could get beat for a passing TD like on that flea flicker against NE last season. And C, The rule of thumb is that he doesn’t attack the line until the runner crosses the LOS. The angle he took was a bad one, but for everything else he’s just reading his keys.

  • RyanW

    Loving the development of Artie. Just gotta work on his play against the run and cut back on the penalties a bit which I’m sure will all come in time.

  • Mark

    Artie Burns played seriously soft late in the game and his run fill was atrocious. Very disappointing.

  • Guillermo Garcia-Gomez

    Shh. Don’t make sense about the responsibilities of a safety when someone criticizes Mitchell. You’re supposed to just agree and find something else to complain about even though he’s been the only consistent performer in that secondary for 3+ years. And yes I know that doesn’t mean much considering how bad the backfield has been but still lol

  • mokhkw

    I don’t know how that can be said when they’ve faced QBs like Kizer, Keenum & Glennon – 2 are backups while the other was in his 1st game. Not exactly what I would call legitimate.

  • mokhkw

    Interesting. After listening to Jon Ledyard on the Locked On Steelers podcast I tend to think that Burns is still the same inconsistent player he was in College and hasn’t progressed as hoped.

    To paraphrase, “some plays he looks great, others he doesn’t even seem to know there is a football game being played.”

  • WB Tarleton

    He’s 22 years old, starting at CB in the NFL, and at the very least is not a huge hindrance out there.

    That’s impressive by any reasonable standard.

  • John Pennington

    He needs to hurry up and learn how to tackle.He is the worst tackler on the team and for a DB who help in supporting the run game because he cant tackle or scared to hurts the team to the point I hope they draft someone who can cover and tackle to take his place.Maybe Allen can see whats happening and stepup his game and put Burns but on the bench until he finds some heart and learn to tackle.

  • John Pennington

    Hope this is MM last year.

  • Amante Da Prez

    I agree, I’ve never been the biggest fan of Mike Mitchell n my feelings toward his play are getting worse. I hope we address the safety position in free agency n an early draft pick. Our safety play has to improve or the defense will continue to struggle

  • Amante Da Prez

    Lol I agree with your last statement, it doesn’t mean much cuz the secondary has been a bottom half of the league unit the past three years lol

  • Amante Da Prez

    True but case keenum sure lit up Tampa bay’s secondary for 300 yards n at least 2.tds lol