If you want your NFL debut spoiled, play the New England Patriots on the road in prime time in the season opener. That’s the simplest way to do it. Jus ask Pittsburgh Steelers 10th-overall inside linebacker Devin Bush, who started and played extensively last night, recording a game-high 11 tackles in a 33-3 defeat at the hands of the defending Super Bowl champions.
The 21-year-old heading into the regular season seemed to emerge at least in some corners as the odds-on favorite to claim the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award by the end of the season, but he’s certainly not thinking about that right now.
He’s thinking about what went wrong last night and how to correct it in time to host the Seattle Seahawks next week. Both in his own performance and that of the rest of the defense. There aren’t many about whom you could say that they had a good game for the Steelers last night.
As for Bush, he had his moments, and I mean that both positively and negatively. He allowed himself to get picked to allow a big play, and most of his tackles came on positive plays for the offense. Head coach Mike Tomlin said that his team wasn’t ready for prime time. Bush clearly has some work to do as well, but that should be a given for any rookie playing in his first game.
All things considered, he did well and looked the part. As mentioned, he played extensively, but the defense managed to get Mark Barron and Vince Williams out there as well. I’m not 100 percent certain but I felt I even saw a play in which all three were on the field. I’ll have to verify that when I have more time to comb over the game as I right into the early morning hours here.
On the performance overall, Bush said, “I just felt like we kind of just beat ourselves a little bit, shot ourselves in the foot a couple times”, as he told reporters in the locker room following the loss, via the team’s website. “Third downs and long passes in situations”.
He added, “I think it was more of a communication, execution thing. I think that’s the area we need to get better at”. And true to form, all three of the Patriot’s touchdown passes included some form of miscommunication or another resulting in a blown coverage assignment. And a lot of that was on having a pair of young safeties, including one making his NFL debut.
The Steelers were terrible last night collectively. But you also saw flashes, a moment on a play here and there, indications of the plan they put together during the offseason. How quickly they can get that plan into action, and then to execute it, will go a long way toward determining what kind of team they will be in 2019.