Lots of plays to dig into in today’s series of film studies so let’s just dig right in. The first one highlights the play of Artie Burns, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ second-year cornerback, who had himself something of an adventurous game, including a dive into the frightening world of run support.
Burns makes an inauspicious early entry here on the second play of the game. Playing off in man coverage on Marvin Jones, the veteran receiver ran through him at the chains before hooking back inside, only to pull a double move, hook-and-go down the field for a big 43-yard reception. Not a great beginning.
It’s fair to point out that Matthew Stafford had time to roll out of the pocket and launch this one though. Buuuuut he also got away with pass interference, so, yeah. Bad play.
Late in the first quarter, the seemingly contact-averse cornerback was forced to play the run when Ameer Abdullah came his way, kinda-sorta making the tackle after eight yards.
Late in the first half, Burns was in coverage against T.J. Jones, playing far off the line on first and 10. The receiver broke for an out route at the chains, but turned back up the field behind the cornerback, squeezing in before the safety could help for 25 yards.
He was forced into run support again two plays later as Abdullah bounced a run to his left, but the former first-round pick does have to get credit here for working him down the sideline and forcing him out of bounds after five yards. Considering the number of missed tackles in this game…
On the final offensive play of the half, Burns was sent on a cornerback blitz from outside the numbers. It was a long way to run, and I’m not sure if he influenced the throw much at all, but that’s the play design. Joe Haden had good coverage in the end zone.
Now into the fourth quarter, Jones caught a short crosser on the other side of the field, but he made enough tacklers miss that it ended up being Burns, outside the numbers on the other side of the field, making the tackle. And he did make the tackle.
Last, but not least, on the final series of the game for the Lions, he was in coverage on Jones for a fade in the end zone. It looked like he was in good position, but mistimed his jump. This was actually a great ball that should have scored the go-ahead touchdown.
I’d like to think that that’s why Burns looked displeased with himself after the play, because he really didn’t play this one well enough. Not a great game for him overall, and Stafford certainly wasn’t afraid of him. He’s still growing and learning, but the Steelers will need better from him in the long run.