Pittsburgh Steelers: Time for Artie Burns to step up


Can Artie Burns develop into a shutdown corner for the Pittsburgh Steelers?

Training Camp has started. Evaluations begun. Roster spots for the taking. Whether a starter or undrafted free agent. Now is the time to prove you deserve to be a Pittsburgh Steeler.

Too many questions on defense. Can they stop the run? How will the rookie DBs and FA signees play? Will they improve on their top 5 passing defense?

HC Mike Tomlin, DC Keith Butler and the front office know the defense must get better. The run defense must improve to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars. The pass defense must improve to beat the New England Patriots.

That’s why the Steelers signed free agents Jon Bostic (LB) and Morgan Burnett (SS). That’s also why the 2018 draft class includes two safeties.

But, let’s be crystal clear. The Pittsburgh Steelers won’t play for another championship, until CB Artie Burns progresses to the next level. So, I ask, will Artie Burns develop into a shutdown corner?

Burns is entering his third season. He’s started 25 games. He got playoff experience. It’s time he ratchets up his play. The organization expects it! The fans demand it!

He has the measurables to be a shutdown CB: youth (23), length (33 1/4), size (6’0, 193 Ibs) and speed (40=4.46). So, why isn’t he? According to Pro Football Focus, Burns’ CB rating improved from 78.8 to 81.4 this past season. It’s a beginning. But not enough!

More from Still Curtain

This offseason, the Steelers demonstrated faith in Burns by not drafting a CB. When the team drafted him in 2016, they knew he was young and raw. They knew he would be a project. But, they had high expectations because of his athleticism.

The Steelers went “all in” on Burns. Banking on him developing into a shutdown CB. So far the bank is still closed!

Hopefully, the coaching change will accelerate Burns’ development. Last February, when Hall of Famer, Carnell Lake resigned, the Steelers hired Tom Bradley as the new DBs coach. Bradley has 35 years of collegiate coaching experience. He relates well to young players. Which is key, considering the youth of the Steelers’ secondary. Who’s average age is 25 years old.

Coach Bradley directed some very good defenses in his 30 years at Penn State. He understands that successful defenses have effective communicators and work together on all three levels.

According to Steelers Wire, Coach Bradley’s primary focus is establishing  good on-the-field communication. Bravo! At times last season, the secondary looked confused. Especially, in the playoffs.

Artie Burns must upgrade his technique. He must be more disciplined and less grabby. He needs more fluidity, when shifting directions in coverage. He must stay engaged and stop taking plays off.

Burns’ coverage skills can be improved. With film study, effort and Coach Bradley’s tutelage, Burns can reach his immense potential. If he has the desire! If he works hard!

As Artie Burns steps onto the Training Camp field. He better be in shape. He better be motivated to improve. He better understand what’s expected of him.

Next. 4 changes you'll see in 2018. dark

He needs to develop into a shutdown CB. Now. Not later. If he doesn’t show significant improvement by season’s end. Or elite CB skills by the end of next year. He won’t be a Pittsburgh Steeler. The team put its faith in him. The rest is up to Artie Burns.