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Film Room: All Aboard Sean Davis’ Wild Ride

Pittsburgh Steelers free safety Sean Davis had a game last Sunday. Now whether that game was predominately good or bad, I cannot really say. Davis’ efforts against the New Orleans Saints were very polarizing, at times he looked like a finished product, a true playmaker and then at other times, his mental lapses would rear their ugly head. The play of the third-year safety has been a roller coaster ride for the Steelers and no game captures that quite as well as last Sunday’s defeat to the Saints.

Buckle up and enjoy the ride.

The biggest high from Davis’ play came on the Saints’ very first drive. The Saints are running what looks to be a double post pattern and the Steelers are in cover one. Davis bites on the inside post and Taysom Hill unleashes a deep ball to Ted Ginn, who is running behind Davis. The ball carries for a bit and allows the Steelers’ safety to recover and come back to the football and make an interception, showing the ball skills that many have been waiting for Davis to show all season.

The rules of gravity may as well be re-named the rules of Sean Davis, as what goes up must come down. After securing his first interception of the season, Davis has a critical lapse in coverage, allowing Michael Thomas to get wide open and take a pass 28-yards into Pittsburgh territory. It looks as if Davis was intending to pass Thomas off to someone else except there was no one to pass him off to.

Just when you think all hope is lost, the safety shows a glimpse of promise. Showing off his athleticism and closing speed that made the Steelers fall in love with him when they picked him in the second round, Davis closes in and delivers a big hit to Thomas. Davis comes from almost midfield to the sideline in a short period of time and is able to dislodge the football from Thomas as well. At best, the play is a fumble if reviewed but Mike Tomlin did not throw the challenge flag on the play. Instead the play is ruled incomplete and the safety is credited with negating what would have been a 20+ yard pass.

Just a few plays later, Davis made sure to regress back to his mean as he could not hold down the fort on the Saints’ second touchdown of the game. One of his three missed tackles on Sunday, according to our charting. Davis whiffs on Alvin Kamara and allows the running back to stroll into the end zone. The free safety has now missed a team-high 20 tackles on the season, eight more missed tackles than the next closest Steeler.

Kamara would haunt the Steelers’ third year safety one more time before this game finished, taking a pass from Drew Brees 42-yards down the sideline. Davis is matched up man to man with Kamara and he takes a poor angle to the ball, allowing Kamara to run free up the sideline. To be fair, this is a tough task for most NFL defenders but a poor angle to the football makes this an impossible one for Davis. He struggled with Kamara in coverage all afternoon, allowing another completion on third and short later in the drive.

Davis is a free safety with a high ceiling and has the potential to make plays on the football (he has a couple dropped interceptions this season). Potential is not helping anyone right now though. The Steelers have the potential to go the playoffs but right now they are not in a playoff position. Davis has the potential to be an adequate to good free safety but right now he is not. Eventually, potential runs out. After all the ups and downs, the roller coaster ride comes to an end. Following up a good play with an equally poor play leaves no one a winner at the end, it leaves you back at square one, back at 8-6-1.

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