Sean Davis Elevating Play After Slow Start To Season

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.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

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

  • ryan72384

    I was starting to think I was crazy for saying this guy had pro bowl potential in his future before the season started. He looked good on blitzes and run support last year. Definitely has elevated his play the last few weeks. He seemed to blitz more last year.. And seemed to really have a knack for getting pressure on the QB. It appears Hilton has become the primary DB blitzer this year as I haven’t really noticed Davis blitzing. I would still like to see him come flying in to make some run stops behind the line but I’m just so spoiled by years of Troy P making plays like his tackle on Chris Johnson in the 09′ opener. Good god I’ve never seen a safety with that kind of burst.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    davis and mitchell need to switch positions badly.

  • Matt Manzo

    Id be willing to bet that Mitchells replacement is more of a SS! Makes it hard though since we ask both Safteys to play both spots.

  • derp_diggler

    And you probably never will. Troy was a once in a lifetime kind of player.

  • StolenUpVotes

    Which is why Troy was is a first ballot HOFer and the best to have played the position in my opinion. I am sure there are some 49ers fans and Ravens fans who would definitely disagree with me though lol

  • Matt Manzo

    I loved the pick when we got him. He’s a smarts kinda player. Once the mental aspect matches his instincts he’ll be the playmaker we’re hoping for!

  • Obi Ryn Denobi

    Kids in the secondary can be crazy inconsistent. Ike was a seesaw his first 4-5 seasons — great one year, so-so the next, etc. Troy was clueless as a rook with his thumb up his butt, when he was one. Rod Woodson never even made the field as a rookie. Their every mistake is sooo magnified back there! A slip or two-step bite ends up in a happy dance for them! Kids get overwhelmed and freeze for fear of f*cking up!

    It’s the one reason you hold onto/acquire slowing down aging veteran the most — CHAOS! They are doing so very, very, ridiculously very, very good, given just how many kids are back there at the same time right now!!!!

    It’s why Mike and Willie, while not perfect, not to mention the Cleve Brownies dropping JOE FRICKIN’ HADEN (Match made in the heavens for him and us!!) in our laps for nothing, are worth their weight in gold! Every play that you DON’T have the dreaded ‘C,’ when they are surrounded by diapers back there, is to be savored, fiendishly gleefully, for not only are bombs not falling now, but these kids, all of them, just might be good!

  • Taylor Williams

    He’s a FS playing SS.
    Davis is a good enough box safety, but the Steelers arent using him in the box. Mitchell in the other hand needs to be a box safety.

  • Rotten Sircus

    Sean Davis is more of an enforcer if anything ..I’d like him to have more picks but I like that the kid isn’t afraid to TACKLE !!!

  • Michael Mosgrove

    if that replacement is danger zone im all for it.

  • Brenton deed

    To be honest Reed and Lott were also “once in generation types” (although perversely Reed was the same generation as Troy).
    Although I am biased, I believe Troy’s play regularly featured athletic feats NO-ONE has ever duplicated.