The offseason is a time for reflection and improvement. Most players spend the offseason with the intention of improving their athletic ability to ensure that their next season is their best. I too have spent this offseason reflecting and improving, though I am not working on my 40-yard dash time or anything like that. Instead, I have picked up a few books that revolve around the game to read, none better than The Big Book of Belichick by Alex Kirby.
Belichick details all his thoughts and opinions on the game in the book and one bit on the secondary stuck out in particular. The mastermind behind the New England Patriots’ dynasty details how crucial it is for members of the secondary to be efficient tacklers, which made me think about the current play and contract status of Pittsburgh Steelers’ safety Sean Davis.
Here is what Belichick had to say about the importance of tackling from the secondary.
“I learned a long time ago – my dad told me this and Coach Parcells told me this – that the most important thing on defense is to get 11 guys out there that can tackle. I mean look, defensively, your job is to get the guy with the ball on the ground. In the end, that’s your job. All the other stuff is great, but if you can’t do that, then what do you really have? Now that’s not to minimize coverage skills….but if you’re willing to give up poor tackling for coverage skills, eventually there is going to be a problem there. I put a high priority on (tackling),” says Belichick.
The first problem with Davis is inconsistency has been the biggest form of consistency thus far in his career and I am not talking about his play. This will be Davis’ fourth year in the league and the first where he is entering the season playing the same position he played the year prior.
Through his first three years, the former Maryland product has alternated between slot cornerback, strong safety and free safety. Constantly changing positions can never be good for one’s development and that has showed throughout Davis’ production.
Thanks to the site’s very own Josh Carney, it is possible to go back and track all of Davis’ missed tackles since he entered the NFL three years ago. The total amount of missed tackles that the fourth-year safety has racked up is documented below (includes regular season and post season play).
2016 – 22 missed tackles (Second most on the team)
2017 – 24 missed tackles (Second most on the team)
2018 – 20 missed tackles (Most on the team)
Total – 66 missed tackles
Since his rookie season, no player on the Steelers has whiffed on more tackles than Davis, though to be fair, Ryan Shazier would have given him a run for his money had he stayed healthy. Now entering the final year of his contract, the Steelers are going to have to make a decision soon on whether Davis fits the long-term picture of their team.
In a make it or break it year, Davis is going to have to show the Steelers that the past three seasons are not an accurate reflection of his true potential. The Steelers safety has recorded just five interceptions over three seasons while missing 66 tackles, a staggering amount. With 239 total tackles to his name and 66 missed tackles, Davis has attempted 305 total tackles thus far in his career, meaning that the safety is carrying a whiff rate of 21.6-percent. That is surely a number that the Steelers would like to see Davis bring down as the safety is currently missing one out of every fifth tackle.
This will be the first offseason that Davis will not undergo a position change and it could not have come at a better time. With training camp now underway, the clock has now begun on what could be Davis’ final year in Pittsburgh but a good showing in coverage and especially in the tackling department could extend his stay.