While the Pittsburgh Steelers saw a number of things go wrong on Sunday, as tends to be the case when you lose a game by 30 points, one of the biggest issues in any phase of the game was the play—and communication—at the safety position.
With veteran Sean Davis missing the opener against the New England Patriots with an ankle sprain suffered in Week Three of the preseason, first-year Kameron Kelly made both his NFL debut and first career start against Tom Brady. Both he and second-year safety Terrell Edmunds had a number of issues both physically and mentally that, let’s say, were an issue.
Davis, who confirmed to reporters that he’s going to play tomorrow, was asked to assess the defense’s performance himself. “Honestly, the score was bad, we gave up three big plays”, he told reporters, via a video on the team’s website, “but looking within the game, they were in the red zone four times and we held them to four field goals, so that’s kind of looking at the brighter side of things, disregarding the big plays”.
Talking specifically about the defensive backs, he had to be a bit harsher in his analysis. “I’m a DB, so of course I’ve got to fail us for giving them big plays, but I can’t say it enough, I’m looking forward to jumping back out there and preventing those big plays, maybe getting some picks or something”, he told reporters.
The defense as a whole failed to record a single turnover against the Patriots, and didn’t really even get particularly close to many balls that Brady threw on the night. They were not officially credited with even a single pass defensed on the night. Perhaps the closest was T.J. Watt when he hit Brady’s arm as he threw…on a completed pass to Julian Edelman. It was that kind of night.
Sunday was just the second game that Davis has missed in his career. You have to go all the way back to early in his rookie season when he suffered a shoulder injury in the Week Three loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in 2016. He was temporarily benched as the team worked to take him off of slot corner duties, allowing him to grow into the safety position he was drafted to play, and he would ultimately take over a starting job in the second half of the season.
Davis and Edmunds were consistently on the field together last season, the former in his first season as the free safety, and the latter his first in the NFL after being selected in the first round. It was expected that not only would both see meaningful growth individuals (particularly Edmunds), but also as a duo. Davis’ frequent injuries this offseason, bleeding into the regular season, have hindered that development, but hopefully tomorrow’s game gets that, and the defense, back on the right track.