The Pittsburgh Steelers find that their 2016 season ended a bit prematurely, and are undergoing the exit meeting process a couple weeks sooner than they would have liked. Never the less, what must be done must be done, and we are now at the time of the year where we close the book on one season and look ahead to the next.
While we might not know all the details about what goes on between Head Coach Mike Tomlin and his players during these exit meetings, we do know how we would conduct those meetings if they were let up to us. So here are the Depot’s exit meetings for the Steelers’ roster following the 2016 season.
Player: Bud Dupree
Position: Outside Linebacker
Experience: 2 Years
The second season in the league for Bud Dupree is a bit of a difficult one to evaluate when you consider the fact that he spent most of it on injured reserve after undergoing surgery in training camp to repair a sports hernia. The recovery from that surgery effectively continued into his playing time as he tried to gain more flexibility and strength over the course of the season.
Complicating matters even further is the fact that Dupree was already understood to be a player who was still developing his skills at his position and who would have greatly benefitted from the opportunity of experiencing a complete offseason.
Instead of having that luxury, he had very little opportunity to perform throughout the offseason even going back to the spring, he spent a great deal of time resting in the hopes of overcoming his injury in that manner. As we know in hindsight, that did not prove to be an effective solution.
When he did finally get on the field, it was a bit of a gradual process at first, but he took over the starting job after a few games and by the end of the season was playing every snap. As he did during his rookie season, he showed some flashes of greatness—perhaps a bit more frequently than in 2015—but he is still not a finished product.
The biggest difference, though not the only difference, between Dupree and Jarvis Jones is the fact that Dupree’s natural abilities will allow him to make plays, and we got a glimpse of that with his four and half sacks over the final four regular-season games, including a forced fumble.
Dupree also split a sack and registered a hit on the quarterback that forced an interception during the Steelers’ three playoff games. Having some playmaking ability while he is learning to master his craft is certainly useful.
But the 2017 season is an incredibly important one not only for himself but for the team, as I believe that it will be pivotal in determining whether or not he can supply the sort of play from the outside linebacker position that is required for the Steelers’ defense take it to the next level. His growth was stunted last year, but he can have no excuse this time if he’s healthy.