Steelers Have No Plans To Shadow Receivers This Season

In spite of the fact that both of them are theoretically capable of doing it, the Pittsburgh Steelers have no intention of using either of their starting cornerbacks to shadow and particular wider receiver. Not even A.J. Green, who is arguably the toughest assignment that either of them will have faced up to this point in the season, though Stefon Diggs is no walk in the park.

Said William Gay, now reduced to work in the dime package after opening the 2016 season as a starter, “you look at it, you got two number one corners” in second-year Artie Burns and the recently-signed Joe Haden, both former first-round draft picks. “So why switch it?”, he asked. “That’s a no-brainer”.

Haden spent much of his time in Cleveland trailing his opponents’ best receivers, but he has not had to do that with the Steelers. He feels quite unburdened, in fact, about the whole situation in Pittsburgh, where less responsibility has fallen directly onto his shoulders.

And Burns’ improvement from year one to year two has had a lot to do with it, something that starting strong safety Sean Davis noted. “He’s elevating his game, he’s making plays, making plays that he was missing last year”, he told Jacob Klinger. “We’ve been going in, reviewing stuff, shows that his mental game is elevated and he’s making more plays out there”.

Haden also told the reporter that none of his coaches have up to this point outlined any sort of plan that would see either himself or Burns shadow any player at any point this season, which is something that they did a couple of times even last year—with Ross Cockrell, whom they traded in the process of cutting down the roster to 53.

When it comes to the Bengals, it’s unclear who they will even be lining up against. There is Green, of course, and Brandon LaFell, who has so far remained their second wide receiver, despite the fact that they have drafted a pair of wide receivers in the first two rounds over the course of the past two years.

Their 2016 second-round pick, Tyler Boyd, has already been ruled out. 2017 first-rounder John Ross finally returned to practice for the first time in over a month this week, and was a full participant yesterday, but it remains uncertain if he is going to make his return to the field.

I do think this is something the Steelers would have hoped to avoid this season, and which might not have been possible had they not gotten the opportunity to sign Haden, instead going into the season again with Cockrell. While Burns has made progress, both physically and mentally, he is still in a position in which it is best to limit his responsibilities to help him just play.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

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

  • walter

    Im afraid if we dont play some man to man coverage during the season, we wont be able to do it when we play new england.

  • AndyR34

    If I were the Bungles I would go at Burns all day long with a smattering of Hilton. Burns will crack, IMHO.

  • SilverSteel

    I think we are playing some man and even disguised coverages. But I agree. Let’s get that down pat now! Not the week before the big game.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    How about we NOT tell the whole world our defensive plans?

  • Matthew Marczi

    Do you really think any team is spending time preparing for the possibility that the Steelers might shadow a receiver? Besides, it’s not like they’re suddenly committed to never doing it now that they said it to a reporter.

  • Darth Blount 47

    It’s not really a question of even whether or not we SHOULD shadow Green. But more a simple equation of Haden > Burns (Green) = $.

    So even if we don’t make a concerted effort, maybe we just see how the game flows and if we need to start to give special attention, we do. Hopefully though, it doesn’t take one of Green’s patented 75 yard TD’s to make us acutely aware.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    Tell me what GOOD comes from revealing our strategies, Matt?

    What a stupid point to try and argue. I know you’ve taken some of my critiques personally but this is getting ridiculous.

    I absolutely think it benefits the Bengals to know whether we’re putting Burns or Haden on A.J. Green full time. There are routes they would call against Burns that wouldn’t be as successful as Haden, and vice versa.

    If you don’t recognize that, I question your competency as a football analyst.

  • nutty32

    AJ should be doubled on all relevant plays so what does it really matter? Actually like the concept of having the shutdown on the #2 WR alone & doubling AJ/Julio/Odell/etc with the team v. man-on-man on their top weapon with the shutdown. 99% of AJ’s highlight splash plays are times when he’s singled up. He’s too tall & too fast to not have a safety coming over to say hello to his ribs every single time. Make Daulton go on long drives and wait for him to f up by taking away his 1st quick read.

  • mokhkw

    I heard that the Steelers have been running man coverage less than 10% which ranks 32nd in the league atm. I have a feeling that will change after the bye week.

  • SilverSteel

    I hope so. 10% is not going to cut it. Heck , I bet last year we ran more than that.

  • Matthew Marczi

    I don’t really care what you have to say, to be honest. I have no reason to take anything you say personally. I just think it’s comical that you think this would do any harm. Once again, the Steelers can still shadow somebody if they wanted to even though Haden said this. What he says literally means nothing because they could easily do something else. Feel free to agonize over stupid things like this though, it only affects yourself, after all.

    Very few teams ever shadow anybody, by the way.