The last time that the Pittsburgh Steelers had a rookie in the thick of the discussion for a Rookie of the Year Award was probably during Ben Roethlisberger’s rookie season. On the defensive side of the ball, that would be Kendrell Bell back in 2001, who came on like gangbusters at inside linebacker.
They may have their next contender for a rookie distinction in 2019 with Devin Bush, the linebacker they traded up to select in the first round of the draft earlier this year. Through the first six games, he has recorded 52 tackles with four fumble recoveries, two interceptions, and a sack. He leads the Steelers in tackles and interceptions, and is coming off a game for which he was named the Defensive Player of the Week.
His numbers so far compare favorably to just about any other rookie defender. Though there is a long stretch of the season remaining, he is easily among the frontrunners along with Nick Bosa of the San Francisco 49ers and Brian Burns of the Carolina Panthers.
Even though he was appreciative of the Defensive Player of the Week Award, and called it part of a week that he won’t soon forget—he also had his high school jersey number retired—he said that he doesn’t spend much time thinking about such things, including the possibility of winning the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award.
“I kind of don’t pay attention to it”, Bush told Missi Matthews in a one-on-one sit-down interview that he conducted for the team’s website over the bye week. “I feel like, this is a team sport, you’re only as good as you are as a team. One person can’t win football games. If you take care of business I feel like a lot of things will come”.
The Steelers, after all, find themselves at 2-4 at this point of the season and sitting two and a half games back in the divisional race. They can pick up half a game by defeating the winless Miami Dolphins this week with the Baltimore Ravens sitting idle on their bye, but their margin for error has become non-existent.
There’s no room for concerning yourself with individual awards. Nevertheless, the Steelers need guys like Bush to play at such a level that such awards will come naturally. They need Bush to be a difference-maker, a producer of splash plays, a catalyst for overall improvement. An eraser of mistakes.
Sometimes the best way to get what you want is to go about your business. I’m sure Bush would appreciate an end-of-season award, but he knows it’ll come if he simply does what he needs to do.