The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: Devin Bush will not wear the green dot before midseason.
Explanation: While it wasn’t a shock that the Steelers didn’t give Bush the green dot in his first career game, the team has been pretty clear about its intentions about making him the communicator of the defense sooner rather than later. He did play pretty extensively, but is clearly not yet an every-down player.
If the Steelers are going to continue to use some sort of a three-man rotation at inside linebacker in which nobody sees more than, say, 75 percent of the snaps in any given week, then it’s really difficult to make any of them the primary communicator on defense, really.
T.J. Watt, on the other hand, appears to be a player that they intend to use similar to James Harrison at the height of his career, as a guy who almost never comes off the field, perhaps only missing a snap here and there over the course of the game.
If the Steelers are comfortable with Watt being that guy, and he’s certainly more experienced and versed in the defense, then there’s no need to rush Bush into that role. He’ll get there eventually, but the less you put on his plate, the easier it should be for him to get where he’s going.
While he didn’t play every snap, Bush did play a lot, and generally, he played well. Even without the one wearing the green dot, he is still a key part of the communication chain and needs to know and know how to disseminate the calls to the rest of the unit.
Half a season is plenty of time for Bush to get comfortable on the field, and for the team to get comfortable with him out there relaying the plays. I think midseason is a pretty fair benchmark. By then, the plan at inside linebacker should be much clearer, and the intention is obviously for him to be an every-down guy.