The quote could sure use some context, and I will provide that, but it was one that was too good not to use for this article. Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler talked during minicamp about the team’s decision have their outside linebackers swap sides, and was asked specifically about how he felt that would help fourth-year veteran Bud Dupree.
“What Bud did too much of last year, in my opinion, was he got past the quarterback”, he told Joe Rutter. “To me, you’re useless when you’re past the quarterback and trying to rush the quarterback. Now, he won’t be as useless behind the quarterback because he can work back a little bit or he can go up and under where the quarterback won’t see him”.
Now, he doesn’t actually go on to explain why rushing from the right side would better allow him to work back to the quarterback than he is able to from the left side, from where he has primarily worked over the course of his first three seasons.
But the former first-round pick did say that he is “more comfortable” on the right side. Right tackle Marcus Gilbert said earlier this offseason about the switch that the reason Dupree was initially put on the left side was because Jarvis Jones was already on the right, and was more comfortable working there.
While he did get some work as a right-side rusher during his college career, he was predominantly on the left side, so he doesn’t have a lot of recent experience rushing from the side to which he is moving.
One thing we do know is that Dupree has struggled exactly with what Butler described, that is getting run up the arc and being unable to counter back inside. During his first two seasons, he produced very few pressures but turned a high percentage of them into sacks.
This past season, he significantly improved his ability to put pressure on the quarterback on a down-to-down basis, but the vast majority of his pressures were of low-quality in that they only marginally affected the quarterback. His ability to translate pressure into sacks or quarterback hits was the lowest of all edge rushers with at least 300 pass-rushing snaps last season, according to Pro Football Focus.
Nobody made any hint of this an influence upon the decision, but there is the fact that Dupree injured his right shoulder and played through it last season, which makes it more difficult to rush from the left side. He is said to have aggravated a shoulder injury during OTAs, but it’s not known what shoulder.
As I pointed out yesterday, however, this was a plan that both Dupree and T.J. Watt knew would be a possibility going back to last season, and both have been on board with it, each of them claiming that they believe they may be able to find more success on their new sides. Let’s hope that’s the case. At the very least, it should allow them to be more versatile.