It was just two weeks ago that I wrote an article bloviating over second-year starting safety Sean Davis and whether or not he was performing at a sufficiently competent level to justifying continuing in his current role unchallenged even temporarily. The 2016 Pittsburgh Steelers second-round draft pick had not been living up to the promise of his rookie season.
It would only be fair for me now, two weeks on, to acknowledge that his overall play, and his contributions to key moments in games, has taken a significant positive step, and has also cut down on some of the mistakes that he had been making previously.
I will have a film study up on some of his key moments from Sunday’s win a bit later on in the week—maybe tomorrow? I’m not sure—but I wanted to just talk a bit about the fact that Davis has been trending sharply upward since his struggles in games against the Bears and the Jaguars, among others.
Last week, against the Chiefs, he had a huge play late in the game in which he robbed the tight end of what should have been a touchdown. He caught the ball, but the safety did an excellent job of playing the pocket and took the ball right now, nearly snaring it for the interception.
It was on fourth down, anyway, so possession would have changed hands regardless, but instead of taking over on—if I recall correctly—the two-yard line, it would have given the Steelers the ball at the 20.
He continued to make plays on Sunday against the Bengals, including a forced fumble after a hard hit on running back Joe Mixon that caused him to lose the handle on the football as he stumbled backward and tried to regather himself.
Later in the game, he came up from behind the intended target on a deep pass and batted the ball up, which gave William Gay the opportunity to claim it as his own, his first interception of the season and the third by a cornerback on the year.
Those are of course just the plays of a more highlight-worthy variety, but while they are important in helping to influence the momentum of the game, it is down-to-down consistency of execution that ultimately gets the job done, and he has been better in that aspect as well.
He has cut down on the poor angles and the missed tackles, and has generally been doing his job better, rounding into midseason form, coincidentally, just in time for midseason.
It is worth remembering that it was only around this time a year ago that Davis began rotating with Robert Golden at safety, taking over the reins for the starting strong safety position over the course of the final seven games. Sunday was just his 17th start there, including the postseason. But fair or not, the expectations for him are already high, and so he gets treated like a veteran.