Artie Burns Season Off to Terrible Start

Artie Burns

The Pittsburgh Steelers came into the season expecting a new-look, improved defense. Third year cornerback Artie Burns was expected to be one of the leaders. To this point, the defense has been nothing short of horrible, and the same can be said of Burns’ performances thus far. He has tremendously struggled to this point in the season, and the team’s secondary as a whole has done the same.

Artie Burns Poor Play Characterizes Pittsburgh Steelers Defense Thus Far


Burns had his coverage woes on full display against the Tampa Bay BuccaneersMike Evans was mostly getting what he wanted when he was covered by Burns. Late in the first half of that game, Evans beat Burns for a humongous 51-yard gain. At that point in the game, the Steelers were blowing Tampa Bay out. But, with the game ending 30-27, Burns was very fortunate that the drive only ended in a field goal. It is clear during the play that Burns was in one-on-one coverage. Sure, the safety was a little late getting there. But, Burns got burned. There’s no worrying about the safety if Burns doesn’t get burned.

Later on in the game. at a much more crucial time. Evans once again beat Burns. This time, it went for a touchdown and brought Tampa Bay within a field goal. This time, Artie Burns was beaten badly. Evans was past him by at least two steps.

There were two times against the Kansas City Chiefs that Burns got burnt, too. And, both plays went for touchdowns, in a game that the Steelers lost by two touchdowns. Tyreek Hill absolutely burned Burns to the end zone for an easy touchdown. The only thing Burns could do was turn and chase. Earlier in the game, Demarcus Robinson also scored on Burns. Burns never even touched Robinson, and just chased him the whole time. These constant let downs can’t happen from a guy who is supposed to be an improved talent in his third season. As a former first-round draft pick, Burns hasn’t shown much to justify that first round selection.

Mental Lapses

For as many physical mistakes as Burns has made, he makes mental mistakes to go with them. An inexcusable mental mistake was one that came in week one against the Cleveland Browns. After being blocked hard by Jarvis Landry, Burns got up and shoved Landry after the whistle. He received a 15-yard penalty for unnecessary roughness as a result. Then, Burns thought it would be smart to take off his helmet while on the field. Another 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct. 30 penalty yards on one play. With plays like that, it’s no surprise that Pittsburgh is leading the league in penalties by a wide margin.

To go with mental lapses, there have been an absurd amount of miscommunications in the team’s secondary. Granted, they don’t always involve Burns. But, especially in games that Joe Haden misses, Burns is the leader of the secondary. There is a perfect example from Week Two’s game with the Chiefs (addressed here). Chris Conley goes uncovered into the end zone for a touchdown. Burns was the closest guy, though the touchdown definitely wasn’t his fault. It was a miscommunication. Still, with Haden off the field, Burns has to make sure in that situation that everyone is on the same page. He didn’t, and it showed. Yelling at players for missing their assignments after the play happens will not fix anything.

Last Word

Artie Burns will need to turn his season around, and soon. Pittsburgh’s defense has made it clear that they are not very good. The offense will only be able to carry the load for so long. Eventually, it’s going to come down to the defense needing to make a stop to win a game. And it all starts with Artie Burns and the secondary.

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