Get ready for this one. One of the least popular players on the roster is going to bat for one of the least popular coaches on the roster. I already know that the comments section is going to be a veritable dumpster fire. You already know what this is going to be about because you read the title, so let’s dig in, shall we?
Coming off the 2014 season, the Pittsburgh Steelers made the decision that it was time to move on from longtime defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, promoting linebackers coach Keith Butler into that role. Butler, who was the linebackers coach even prior to LeBeau rejoining the team, had been the nominal heir apparent for that role for years.
With the new defensive coordinator also came a new outside linebacker, with Bud Dupree being added in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft. The athletic specimen came into the league raw—he didn’t even have a full-time position coach—but the team figured that had the ability to develop into a quality starter.
Whether or not he has is somewhat up for debate, though I would wager most here think not. He has only registered 11 and a half sacks over the past two years, playing in 31 of 32 games in that span. He has two career forced fumbles and one interception.
And he believes in Butler.
“People don’t really know about how great of a coach Buts is”, he told Jacob Klinger, explaining that that is partially because “the way he talk, the way he act, it kind of throws you off. Like ‘He don’t know what the [expletive] he talking about.’ But, Buts really know what’s going on”.
Leaguewide, many of the Steelers’ defensive statistics really don’t rank so poorly these days, and the team was surprisingly effective rushing the passer this year even without blitzing, but their lack of turnovers and failure to make plays at critical moments doomed their season.
“Buts really knows the linebacker position, he knows the DB position, he knows the defensive line, he knows the coverages, the schemes, he knows what players are gonna do”, Dupree insisted. “It’s just, the way his persona is, it’s just different”.
There’s a good chance that the Steelers will choose to move on not just from Butler, but from Dupree as well this offseason. Butler has had four seasons and plenty of premium draft picks to build a championship defense. Dupree has had four years to develop into a quality starter and has been surpassed from the word go by T.J. Watt.
The biggest obstacle for Dupree is the team’s decision last offseason to pick up his fifth-year option worth over $9 million. His play certainly doesn’t command that price tag, but failing a better option, he could be kept. Alternatively, they could attempt to re-sign him after releasing him.