Throughout the course of his three seasons of college football, Pittsburgh Steelers rookie inside linebacker Devin Bush only managed to force one turnover. He never forced a fumble (though, admittedly, I don’t know how many he might have recovered), and he recorded only one interception.
During the first six games of his professional career, he has registered six takeaways, including two interceptions, doubling that of his three-year college total, one in each of the past two games. He has recorded four fumble recoveries, the most recent coming on Sunday, which he picked up and brought into the end zone for his, and the defense’s, first defensive score.
How does one explain this phenomenon? You don’t suddenly develop the ability to create such splash plays, especially when moving from a lower level of competition to a higher one. Bush had always had these capabilities between his athletic and mental prowess, but sometimes it’s the luck of the draw.
“When I’m home I’m just sitting around with a ball in my hand”, said the rookie linebacker, who indeed looked rather comfortable toting the rock on both of the occasions in which it ended up in his hands on Sunday night, the second game this year in which he has produced multiple turnovers.
The first was a scoop-and-score fumble recovery, the fumble produced by virtue of a backward pass that was not completed. Bush not only had the instinct to understand that it was a live ball—not everybody immediately recognized that—but also was precise in his approach of the football, making sure not only that he would field it cleanly but that he would be in position to run with it once securing it. From that moment on, he made a mad dash to the end zone, diving decisively across the goal line.
That was his fifth takeaway of the year, and he wouldn’t have to wait long for his sixth, as on the Los Angeles Chargers’ next drive, Tyson Alualu was able to get a hand up in Philip Rivers’ throwing lane, batting the ball up in the air. Bush nestled it like an infielder settling under a routine pop fly.
I don’t know whether or not carrying the football around with him when he’s at home really does much of anything to help him in these situations, but I can’t imagine that it hurts, either, so to that end, I hope he continues to do so. There’s nothing wrong with a defender being very comfortable with the football. Provided that he’s your player, of course.