This past Tuesday on ‘GMFB’ on the NFL Network, former NFL wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. listed the play of new Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Steven Nelson last season when he was with the Kansas City Chiefs as one of the reasons why that team didn’t make it to the Super Bowl.
“The biggest game of their [the Chiefs] career, the Patriots, [the] defense didn’t show up,” Smith said Tuesday morning when talking about what the Chiefs need to do this season to compete for a championship. “They got Tyrann Mathieu, they let go of Eric Berry, they let go of Steve Nelson, who he really didn’t cover very many people anyway. So, they really have to get some good guys in the back end in the secondary, because if they dont, they are going to find some trouble.”
As you can probably imagine, Nelson didn’t take too kindly to Smith’s disparaging remarks about him. In fact, the Steelers new cornerback went off on Smith via his Twitter account.
“Steve Smith I don’t know who paid you to talk crazy better go watch some more film sir but you can come out of retirement and get this work crazy you seen me in Atlanta for super bowl lips was stitched … we gone see I can’t wait I love all the hate #morelife #ongod,” Nelson tweeted Saturday night.
That tweet was followed by one that has since been deleted by Nelson and probably because of the foul language that was included in it.
“Gave up a td in afc championship so fuckin what … 4 picks 15 pubs season if you lost your money bc you bet on that game and you felt like that td hurt your pockets I’ll help you out prolly lost 200 gtfoh name a dB who hasn’t gave up a td I’ll wait …. cricket 🦗 🦗🦗😂😂😂”
Last season, Nelson was the most-targeted player in coverage in the NFL during the regular season, according to Pro Football Focus and it resulted in him allowing 60 receptions for 825 yards and 5 touchdowns. He did, however, have a team-high 4 interceptions last season with the chiefs to go along with 15 pass breakups, according to stats on NFL.com. Collectively, opposing quarterbacks only registered a rating of 76.8 when targeting Nelson in coverage, according to PFF.
In the playoffs last season, Nelson allowed was targeted 15 times in the Chiefs two games and he allowed 8 passes to be caught for 136 yards and 2 touchdowns. Below are clips of both of the touchdown passes he allowed.
The Chiefs obviously didn’t re-sign Nelson before the start of free agency and that led to him ultimately signing a three-year, $25.5 million with the Steelers that included a $7.5 million signing bonus. While the Steelers will likely draft another cornerback this next weekend, Nelson will still be expected to open the 2019 regular season as the team’s starter opposite fellow cornerback Joe Haden.
Like he was with the Chiefs last season, Nelson is likely to be targeted quite a bit by opposing quarterbacks in his first season in Pittsburgh and it will be interesting to see how he fares in coverage should that indeed be the case. Based on the money the Steelers gave Nelson this offseason, they expect he’ll be the team’s starter for at least this next season and hopefully two more seasons after that. Nelson also has experience playing in the slot, so that position flexibility might also help the Steelers at some point moving forward.