The journey toward the Super Bowl is now well under way with the Pittsburgh Steelers back practicing at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, still informally referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility. With the regular season standing in their way on the path to a Lombardi, there will be questions for them to answer along the way.
We have asked and answered a lot of questions during the preseason and through training camp, but much of the answer-seeking ends in the regular season, and teams simply have to make do with what they have available to them. Still, there will always be questions for us.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the regular season and beyond as they develop, looking for the answers as we evaluate the makeup of the Steelers on their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.
Question: What will Bud Dupree look like during the postseason?
I’m sure Bud Dupree himself would agree that the third-year outside linebacker did not have the sort of season that was expected of him, expectations that he had on his own without external motivation. It didn’t help that he played through a shoulder injury, and we don’t know how that might have continued to affect him.
If it had, then getting the bye week off will be of a minor benefit, but I wouldn’t imagine that we will see a dramatically different play from the one we have been seeing. Although he did not play the full game, with the depth being rotated in more than ordinary, Dupree did not record a statistic against the Browns.
For the season, he recorded 40 tackles with six sacks and a pass defensed. Overall, not the most impressive stat line you could come to expect from an edge rusher, even accounting for a game missed. He recorded four and a half sacks in just seven games a year ago returning from a groin injury. And if I recall correctly, he didn’t even play in the first game he dressed for.
Opinions on Dupree’s season have varied, but the range goes from okay to terrible. I haven’t encountered anybody who held the belief that he has had a very good season. I think it would be fair to say that he has yet to live up to expectations, regardless of whether or not there are legitimate injury excuses to partially explain why that is.
The Steelers still managed to record 50 sacks that he didn’t record himself, so it’s not as though they need him to be a dominant player, but more consistency and production from one of their starting outside linebackers would certainly be a welcome site.
*cue discussion about why the Steelers should have kept a highly disgruntled James Harrison now*