The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the regular season, in which they entered with big aspirations, in spite of a tumultuous start to the offseason. Significant players were lost via trade and free agency, players who have helped shape the course of the franchise in recent years. We even now sit here without Ben Roethlisberger after just two games.
The team made some bold moves this offseason and in some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago. That would especially be the case at wide receiver and inside linebacker, where they have new starters. And quarterback was suddenly added to that list.
How will the season progress without Roethlisberger, behind Mason Rudolph? How will the young players advance into their expected roles? Will the new coaches be up to the task? Who is looking good in games? Who is sitting out due to injury?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Why did Devin Bush play so sparingly against the Los Angeles Rams?
Prior to Sunday’s game, the fewest number of snaps that Steelers rookie first-round inside linebacker Devin Bush had played in a single game this season had been 53. He played just 34 snaps against the Rams. It’s only the second time this year in which he was not the inside linebacker on the team who had played the most snaps, the first game being Week Two.
Vince Williams was injured in that game 10 snaps in, so Mark Barron ended up playing 78 snaps to Bush’s 62. But they both played all 79 a week later, and Bush hadn’t played fewer snaps than either him or Williams since then, until Sunday.
He has still played about 85 more snaps on the season than has Barron, the only inside linebacker over 500, and he also continues to make plays. In his relatively small workload against the Rams, for example, he still managed to make three tackles, and was generally sound in coverage.
The most notable thing about the Rams game is the fact that it marked the serious return of the dime defense. Barron was used as the dime inside linebacker. Was that because of his familiarity with the Rams, having played there for several years? Or is this something that we will see in future games as well?