I wrote about Sean Davis earlier this season through about the first four games or so and argued that the second-year starter was not performing particularly well. I even made the argument that I thought it would be reasonable if the Pittsburgh Steelers considered toying with the idea of sitting him for a game, or at least rotating at his position, while he finds his game.
The 2016 second-round pick has been playing much better since then, and creating more impacts for the defense. Even on Thursday, in a game in which he missed a couple of big tackles that were frankly ugly to watch, and, plain and simply, need to stop, he still made plays, including picking off his first pass of the season.
I take no credit for the fact that he started to play better. It is entirely a coincidence that the timing of my article coincided with a division between him playing below the line to him playing above the line. This is so obviously true that I’m not sure why I’m even bothering to mention it.
Except that it has seemed to happen again, this time with punter Jordan Berry. After I wrote an article about the special teams unit being subpar and blaming him in particular for a lot of the struggles that we have seen on the punting unit, he has put together two of his best games this week in back-to-back showings.
Again, purely a coincidence. But timely, and good to see, nevertheless.
On Thursday against the Titans, the third-year Australian native only had to punt the ball three times, but he averaged 47.3 yards per on those attempts, with a long of 59 yards, and had only one of them returned for 10 yards. That was his net average, by the way, which was the third-highest single-game net average of his career to date.
The week before that, he also did very well, punting six times for a net of 46.7 yards, nearly as good. Four of the aforementioned nine punts this week were downed or fair caught inside the 20-yard line. Five of them were returned, yet for just 27 yards combined, averaging just over five yards per return.
The former undrafted free agent has been picking up his season numbers beginning in the second half of the season. His net average through the first eight games was just 37.5, which was the second-worst in the league, behind only the punt he beat out for the job, Brad Wing.
After just two games, he has raised his net average two full yards to 39.5. That still ranks toward the bottom, but he has now moved up to 26th. His gross average ranking also improved from 31st to 28th, which is solid movement after two games in the second half of the season. His 16 punts downed inside the 20 ranks tied for 13th, but he only has the 17th-most punts.