Film Room: Sean Davis Saves Another Score

When it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ second-year starters, I think the only one of the three that one could fairly argue has taken the jump expected of them might be third-round nose tackle Javon Hargrave. While his statistics are not eye-popping, they are nothing to sneeze at, and the coaches want to get him on the field more.

Artie Burns and Sean Davis in the secondary haven’t necessarily blown up into difference-makers just yet, but Davis in particular deserves credit for improving his play over the course of the past few weeks, a trend that hopefully continues into the second half of the season.

When the situation suits the matchup, the Steelers do give him a decent number of opportunities in one-on-one coverage, and he has had some success this year in that role. Midway through the first quarter against the Lions, he was there to blow up the tight end on a short pass, though the receiver did not catch the ball.

Toward the end of the half, however, he did miss a tackle in the open field. It was far from a disastrous result—Dwayne Washington slipped by him on a dump-off pass for a four-yard gain on second and 10—but missed tackles have been a defense-wide problem, with Davis a notable contributor.

He made up for it by once again saving a touchdown in the end zone, the second time that he has done that in the past three weeks. Covering Daniel Fells, he played the pocket and ripped the ball out of the tight end’s grasp.

Midway through the third quarter, the Steelers blitzed Mike Hilton, which put him one-on-one against T.J. Jones out of the slot. He ended up getting beat for a 23-yard gain that set up first and goal at the four-yard line. They did fail to convert in part thanks to his defense subsequently, though.

One other play I would like to look at came in the fourth quarter. This time he drew Ameer Abdullah in the open field, and did a much better job of finishing the tackle. It was far from a thing of beauty, but it got the job done—in fact, going for a loss of a yard on first and 10.

While the defense as a whole has played pretty well—most importantly, either keeping teams out of the red zone, or keeping them from scoring in the red zone, but evidently not both in the same game—they still need to fine-tune their unit for the stretch run. Davis has been building up to better play; let’s hope we see his best football yet in the second half.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

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

  • WreckIess

    He’s taking steps forward, but man. He and Burns need to breakout sooner rather than later. Obviously Burns more so than Davis because Davis has been showing some good ball skills this season, but this secondary needs to start making offenses pay.

  • gdeuce

    They will have plenty of opportunities with the myriad of awful QBs we will be facing over the final 8 games

  • israelp

    “either keeping teams out of the red zone, or keeping them from scoring in the red zone, but evidently not both in the same game”

    You cannot do both in the same game. If you keep them out of the red zone, scoring from the red zone is not an opportunity they even have.

  • #beatthepats

    I think he has been very good, good quick reactions to the play, makes plays on the ball, strong tackler, and doesn’t get lost or burnt bad.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    I think, as fans, we sometimes forget how difficult it is to “cover” an NFL receiver.

    The game is built to give the offense the advantage. Once they clear 5 yards, you can’t touch them. If you give them 3 feet of space, you get beat. If you give them less than 3 feet, they jump into you and draw pass interference. If you watch the QB, you lose the receiver. If you watch the receiver, you can’t see the ball coming. Receivers are allowed to shield you with their body, but you’re not allowed to make contact when you reach over them to swat. How do you win?

    I realize Sean Davis has some flaws and some areas he needs to improve, but this is now the 5th red zone pass that I remember (there may be more) where this kid has taken a sure TD pass and literally ripped it out of the receiver’s hands. How great is that? And a lot of them were TE’s (with big strong bear paws that just don’t drop the ball very often).

    Everybody talks about his missed tackles (which is fair) but remember, he also HAS 40 tackles (32 solo tackles) which is 3rd highest on the team. Significantly higher than Mike Mitchell.

    I suspect the Steelers will be drafting a true FS this year to take Mitchell’s place. And then our secondary transformation will be almost complete. Davis + Rookie + Haden + Burns + Hilton + Sutton + Allen.

    Not too shabby (compared with our DB scrubs from years past).

  • Matthew Marczi

    If you read it entirely literally, of course, but it’s very rare that any team actually fails to make *any* trip inside the red zone throughout an entire game. I thought it was pretty obvious that the conversation was limiting the number of trips inside the red zone, and, on those few trips inside the red zone, also limiting the number of touchdowns scored.

  • MC

    Its been a very welcoming sight to see him improving. Don’t know why he hasn’t been blitzed more though, last year he caused some pretty good pressure when he was. I guess Hilton has really taken over as the blitzing DB, which im not upset about either.