The season opener was, in the head coach’s words, a “catastrophic” loss in which the Pittsburgh Steelers were “failing miserably.”
While no particular unit of the team should be spared of blame, the secondary perhaps took the hardest hit. The New England Patriots connected on seven passing plays of at least 20 yards, including all three of their touchdowns.
Can the return of one man fix all of that?
“I would like to think so,” veteran linebacker Mark Barron said of free safety Sean Davis, who will play Sunday against he Seattle Seahawks after missing the opener. “He has that experience and his communication and him knowing things and being a guy who’s played in this scheme for an amount of years, I would like to think that it does.”
For all that went wrong defensively for the #Steelers during their season-opening loss, perhaps their defensive coordinator encapsulated it best.
“We busted some dadgum assignments,” Keith Butler said.https://t.co/UPrwSxjw1c
— Tribune-ReviewSports (@TribSports) September 13, 2019
Davis is unheralded as a free safety in some ways, particularly if measured by his apparent effect on limiting opposition big plays. After only two teams in the league allowed more 40-plus-yard passing plays then the 2017 Steelers, Davis was moved to free safety in 2018.
That season, only six teams allowed fewer passing plays of at least 40 yards.
So, perhaps that no team allowed more passing plays of 20 yards or more in Week 1 is not a coincidence that it was not Davis but a player making his NFL regular-season debut in Kameron Kelly at free safety.
“I am glad that he’s back out there,” Haden said of Davis. “He knows the defense very well, he’s always comfortable, so just hearing his voice back there kind of helps because he knows what he’s talking about.”
Davis had appeared in each of the Steelers’ first 47 games since he was drafted, but he has missed the past two (he sat out last year’s finale because of a quadriceps injury).
“This is my fourth year now, and I am not going to play hurt no more,” David said. “The guys on the other side of the ball are just too good if you can’t keep up with them. You kind of have to put your pride aside and just be a smarter football player, so I have learned that. But I’m good to go this week.”