Film Room: Artie Burns A Work In Progress

Perhaps I am mistaken, but it doesn’t seem to me as though we have spent a whole lot of time taking a look at Artie Burns this year. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ second-year cornerback has been part of a secondary that has allowed fewer passing yards in the league, measured by both total yards and yards per pass attempt.

He has certainly come a long way since his rookie season, but the former first-round pick does still have his moments. Alex Kozora a couple of weeks back took a look at some of the times he has been spared by ineptitude by his offensive counterparts, for example. So let’s take a look at Sunday’s film.

He was targeted on the second play of the game, and gave up the reception, a 15-yarder, to A.J. Green. Playing 10 yards off, Burns allowed Green to run him off, getting his hips flipped to run down the field while the receiver hooked back and dropped into the zone for a pitch-and-catch affair.

Green and Andy Dalton got him again just two plays later for a 10-yard reception, but Burns made this one interesting. He tried to jump the route, and in all honesty came pretty close. The ball was actually thrown high, the receiver barely snagging it, so if it were more accurate, he would have had a better chance of making a play—and even housing it for a score.

Late in the first, he was caught up doing something he doesn’t seem to care to do all too much—play the run. Joe Mixon was able to break out down the field, and Burns and others had to come chase him down. His tackle attempt was, shall we say, not textbook.

Early in the second, Cincinnati tried to find Green off a flea flicker, but with Dalton under pressure, making a good throw was difficult. Burns never bit and stayed in front the whole time, the throw never really being in danger of finding its intended destination.

He did show a little better against the run on another long Mixon carry. While he was blocked down the field, he at least was able to free himself, even if he didn’t make the tackle. But honestly, I was expecting strides to be made in this department, and it remains a disappointment.

I still can’t help but feel that this Steelers secondary has yet to be sufficiently tested, and that Burns in particular is getting away with things that a tougher opponent will exploit. That is my concern for the moment. But he has undoubtedly done some good things, even if he is still learning.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

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

  • Av232

    Watching him play the run actually makes me a little angry.

  • falconsaftey43

    His play against the run is baffling at times. Like the first tackle “attempt” vs Mixon. It’s not like he was going to take a hit, he’s running from behind, just grab him, instead he leans his shoulder against him? What even is that? It’s not like he’s contact adverse, we’ve seen him come up hard on screens and lay a hit or make a good tackle. I don’t know what he is thinking or trying to do sometimes against the run. Hope that improves.

    On a better note, he’s going to get one of those balls soon, he’s coming close to jumping those routes quite a lot.

  • Thomas

    If this doesn’t get better it will bite us when it counts for sure.

  • Andrew

    RE: The flea flicker

    I guess this is where his distaste for playing the run actually helps! He sure won’t be peaking in the backfield to help out!

  • WB Tarleton

    Lol OF COURSE he didn’t bite on the flea flicker. If it had been a run, he might have put himself in position to tackle (or miss) the ball carrier.

    He was having none of that.

  • Anthony Palmerston

    I feel the same way. Artie Burns makes me nervous. But then I have to remind myself that he’s only in his second year and that he didn’t begin last year as a starter. So he’s still pretty raw. I expect him to keep getting better and better. But he makes me nervous as of now. I like his aggressive nature though.

  • Anthony Palmerston

    Side note: Doesn’t it seem like this year the flea flicker is being used way more often by offenses?

  • Uncle Rico.

    The first play is C3. Green runs the seam between the middle and outside 3rds. The hook/curl zone defenders both bit on the run action. Shazier recovers somewhat on the opposite side, so you can get an idea what a difference proper depth by VW on that play might have made on Dalton’s throw/trajectory/decision. Nothing really wrong with Burns on that play. Good illustration tho on the benefits of playaction and how it can stretch windows and throwing lanes.

    The RB depth on the next two gifs should be a clear giveaway to the defense, and really anybody, whether it’s gonna be run or pass. But yeah, his run defense looks like a half-hearted PIT manuever. I don’t recall this being an issue last year. Half wonder if he’s playing with an unreported bum labrum.

  • popsiclesticks

    Ha, thought the same thing

  • Steel Realist PAul

    I know, I know.. the Steelers are Not going to bench Burns. Just saying.. I believe the defense would be stronger with the next man up.

    Burns is a liability in the run game and does okay on passes that he’s in position to cover. The D can do better. He is the weakest link.

  • Gautam Ramani

    His tacking is a joke.

  • Steve Johnson

    William Jackson III really looked good last Sunday. And Artie? Hmm! He still has a ways to go.

  • colingrant

    Not much discussion on him because he’s met expectations, both from his on-field play and his draft position.

  • thomas hmmmm

    I would say Mitchell is the weakest link in the secondary now.. Either way neither of those runs that were shown were directly at Artie. If that is the worst they can show about the guy then he is doing a pretty good job.

  • colingrant

    First time I’ve seen him play. Very impressed. Wiry, but tough. Had Ike type length and tackled willingly. Obvious why the Steelers were so high on him. I was hoping to see a dud, but he’s not. Kid can play, just from this one game. Impressed with entire Cinci defensive backfield. The Steelers have played a number of very good defenses. Even Cleveland is 3rd best rush defense, which is not surprising with Williams as the D-Coordinator. He’s controversial, but his defenses are tough, physical and stop the run.

  • Sam Clonch

    Was definitely looking in the backfield when he gave up that big TD play against KC…

  • Steel Realist PAul

    Cmon man, pretty good job?? Did you SEE him completely whiff on the hit because he doesn’t tackle even remotely appropriately??

    Just threw his shoulder and body into space.

    Mitchell tackles and ends plays, Burns runs along side away.

  • Sam Clonch

    Just saw that Noah Spence (who I was really interested in ’16 draft) was put on the Buc’s IR today. Feeling better every day at the FO’s decision to go with Artie instead.

  • Rich Stafford

    Not a fan of Burns Matt. He doesn’t understand simple coverage concepts. Like outside techniques to funnel towards your inside help. Also deep quarters coverage he often doesnt push his man to the sidelines and force a smaller window to throw into. Trail technique he doesn’t carry his coverage deep enough and allows too much room between himself and the safety.

  • Rene Gonzalez

    I get the whole not being tested argument, but we are already almost half way into the season, who do the steelers defense has to prove it against in order for them to finally be legit? Pats? Eagles? Rams? The only team considered championship worthy right now that they’ll face is the pats, so that means that playing great against the rest doesn’t mean a thing?

  • Emiliano Castrejón

    It’s probably just against the steelers, seeing how it worked wonders for NE against us in the AFCC

  • nutty32

    Artie looking like Dion Sanders….unfortunately only in the putrid tackling.

  • Jason Dock Dudley

    wow..some on here must have really forgotten Antwon blake,cortez allen,briece mcain etc. Burns is very young,very raw and provides excellent coverage. Yes his tackling need improvement, but the reality is his #1 job is pass coverage . No he is not all pro but he is no liability either.

  • Doug McFee

    I was at the game way up in section 512 section cc. Focused on Burns for the majority of D snaps. Burns does not play the run at all. I don’t know if it’s scheme or not, but he DOES NOT play the run at all.

  • Matthew Marczi

    A lot of it is, I think, scheme…but not all of it. I thought it would be different this year. He talked in the offseason like it would be different, putting on muscle and things like that. So far, though, he hasn’t shown any initiative against the run, and that’s disappointing.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Doesn’t have to be a great team overall for a cornerback to be tested. I’m interested to see how he does this Sunday, especially if Golden Tate plays.

  • Matthew Marczi

    He’s a liability when he blows his assignments.

  • Stevie D

    I agree he has no interest in tackling and celebrate to much for doing nothing but playing ten yards off the receiver allowing first down.

    Going be liability when Steelers start playing good QB

  • John Pennington

    Still don’t understand how Burns gets away with not tackling in this defense. Sooner or later in a big game that run play will come right at him just like in the Bears game and he wont make the tackle.

  • Jason Dock Dudley

    and how often does that happen again?

  • Matthew Marczi

    Often enough.

  • thomas hmmmm

    Maybe because he saw the lb coming from the otherside? Who knows why he did that anyways Mitchell tackles like that all the time and Mitchell cant cover anyone. So Mitchell is the weakest link.

  • Steel Realist PAul

    I don’t really get why ppl are low on Mitchell. To me, he seems pretty consistent in all areas, besides the silly flag from time to time.

    He’s been the primary enforcer on the back end. He plays the deep ball well and supports the run like a freight train.

    Why is he so weak to you?

  • thomas hmmmm

    He doesnt tackle he lays a shoulder just like Artie did in that gif. He just tries to hit and his angles are usually bad.