Perhaps I am mistaken, but it doesn’t seem to me as though we have spent a whole lot of time taking a look at Artie Burns this year. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ second-year cornerback has been part of a secondary that has allowed fewer passing yards in the league, measured by both total yards and yards per pass attempt.
He has certainly come a long way since his rookie season, but the former first-round pick does still have his moments. Alex Kozora a couple of weeks back took a look at some of the times he has been spared by ineptitude by his offensive counterparts, for example. So let’s take a look at Sunday’s film.
He was targeted on the second play of the game, and gave up the reception, a 15-yarder, to A.J. Green. Playing 10 yards off, Burns allowed Green to run him off, getting his hips flipped to run down the field while the receiver hooked back and dropped into the zone for a pitch-and-catch affair.
Green and Andy Dalton got him again just two plays later for a 10-yard reception, but Burns made this one interesting. He tried to jump the route, and in all honesty came pretty close. The ball was actually thrown high, the receiver barely snagging it, so if it were more accurate, he would have had a better chance of making a play—and even housing it for a score.
Late in the first, he was caught up doing something he doesn’t seem to care to do all too much—play the run. Joe Mixon was able to break out down the field, and Burns and others had to come chase him down. His tackle attempt was, shall we say, not textbook.
Early in the second, Cincinnati tried to find Green off a flea flicker, but with Dalton under pressure, making a good throw was difficult. Burns never bit and stayed in front the whole time, the throw never really being in danger of finding its intended destination.
He did show a little better against the run on another long Mixon carry. While he was blocked down the field, he at least was able to free himself, even if he didn’t make the tackle. But honestly, I was expecting strides to be made in this department, and it remains a disappointment.
I still can’t help but feel that this Steelers secondary has yet to be sufficiently tested, and that Burns in particular is getting away with things that a tougher opponent will exploit. That is my concern for the moment. But he has undoubtedly done some good things, even if he is still learning.