Let’s be honest, as the Pittsburgh Steelers prepared for the 2018 regular season, the thought of Sean Davis moving from the Strong Safety position, to Free Safety, was a bit frightening.
Compounded with the reality whoever started alongside of Davis would be new to the Steelers’ system made the safety position a stressor leading into the season.
However, throughout the Steelers’ Week 1 game vs. the Browns, Davis was one of the bright spots on the Pittsburgh defense. When looking at the box score, you might not think Davis played much of a role in the defense’s performance, but you have to realize his new position doesn’t lend itself to the line of scrimmage play which had him lead the team in tackles last season.
He registered 5 tackles, 4 solo, and 2 pass defenses in the Week 1 contest, but had an overall presence in the back end of the defense which hasn’t been seen since Ryan Clark played alongside Troy Polamalu.
Even the folks at Pro Football Focus (PFF) graded Davis played well. So well, he had the highest grade of his young career.
When fans talk about the safety position, it is almost a certainty Mike Mitchell’s name gets brought up. In my opinion, Mitchell was never as bad as fans made him out to be, but he certainly wasn’t worth the salary he was making while in Pittsburgh.
Mitchell was a hard hitter who had his limitations in both athleticism and in coverage. These are two areas where Davis seems to excel. Davis’ time as a cornerback in college, combined with the physical nature of the Strong Safety position, which he called home his first two seasons, gives him the look of a natural at Free Safety.
It should be noted the Week 1 game was against the Browns, so any huge results and/or accolades should be taken with a Tyrod Taylor-size grain of salt, but you still have to go out and make the plays. More importantly, make the plays which weren’t being made in prior seasons.
Davis, and the Steelers’ defense, will have their work cut out for them in Week 2 when Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill come to town. Perform well again, against this offense, and Davis might be well on his way to finding a very nice home as a Free Safety in Pittsburgh for a long time.