On Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers made a free agent signing by bringing their 2016 second-round draft pick Sean Davis back to Pittsburgh. Davis left in the offseason in search of a starting position after the Steelers acquired All-Pro safety Minkah Fitzpatrick when Davis went on injured reserve last season. Failing to make the final roster with the Washington Football Team, Davis is now adding quality depth of the safety position which was one of the concerns for the Steelers going into 2020.
While it is certain Davis is re-joining the Steelers knowing he is not in line for starting position, will Davis be able to find his way onto the field at all for the Steelers in 2020? Of course, if injuries occurred Davis’ playing time would increase significantly. But barring injury, will David be utilized at all?
In today’s NFL, sub package football has become more of the norm than the exception. With the Steelers only playing their base defense less than 30% of the time, extra defensive backs are utilized often in all NFL defenses.
Before Davis’ arrival, one of the intriguing questions in Steelers training camp was going to be who earned more chances for snaps as the slot corner between Mike Hilton and Cameron Sutton. While each was utilized differently in 2019 with Hilton used more in run support and Sutton being more of the pass defender, it was believed both players will see the field as part of the Steelers dime defense. With the Steelers using six defensive backs in this package, it made sense for both Hilton and Sutton to be the next two players on the field. But does the addition of Sean Davis change this?
With no preseason games to go on, it was not clear which players the Steelers would utilize in their dime package. One option of using a larger safety in the “dime linebacker” position such as Marcus Allen is possible, another choice is having Terrell Edmunds as a candidate for the position. If so, another defensive back would come in to play the additional safety position along with Mikah Fitzpatrick. Many believe this would have been Cam Sutton, but now Sean Davis is also an option.
So who will see the most snaps as part of the Steeler subpackage football? Frankly, it should strictly come down to who gets the job done the best. Not only that, there may be times where Sean Davis would be more desirable to have in one certain subpackage while Cam Sutton may be a better fit in others. Another possibility would be based on each week’s matchup and the teams the Steelers are facing.
What is more important than who is getting the snaps is the quality of snaps which the defense is producing. Adding another quality safety into the mix will only increase these odds more for the 2020 Pittsburgh Steelers.
To answer the question posed by the title of the article, it would simply be “for the better.” Even if Davis does not see any defensive snaps in 2020 (which would be a stretch), just having the added option is really what is important.