If you weren’t convinced Bud Dupree had turned the corner in his career, Sunday should’ve changed your mind. Dupree put in arguably his best performance ever with two sacks, including a 4th down forced fumble, in the win over the Indianapolis Colts.
Asked about Dupree’s performance after the game, Tomlin said what at this point, is obvious.
“He’s been a monster,” Tomlin said in his post-game press conference. “As has TJ. They’re really setting a pace off the edge and really providing a wave the rest of us get to ride defensively. But that’s the nature of outside linebacker play within our scheme. Particularly when you draft them in round one. That’s what they’re supposed to look like in their mid-20s.”
Dupree’s up to six sacks this season, already matching the season-high set in 2017. It’s no longer a question of if he’ll set a career high but just how high that number will be. Beyond his pass rush taking a big leap, his run defense has been excellent throughout the year. He made a critical 3rd and 2 stop to force the Colts to settle for Adam Vinateri’s 43 yard field goal that hopelessly missed wide left.
Asked about his and the defense’s performance after the game by Missi Matthews, Dupree took the spotlight off himself and shined it on others.
“It’s just a blessing to be able to be here and dominate like that,” he said. “It was a great team effort. Minkah did a great job of changing possessions. Cam did a great job in the trenches. Man, it was a blessing.”
It’s difficult to pinpoint what’s changed. Fair to say he knows he’s in a contract year and making himself oodles of money. But good health, he’s been plagued by nagging upper body injuries the last two years and Keith Butler’s full-time coaching are playing roles as well.
The only downside here is his stellar play only drives up his 2020 price tag all the more, likely putting him out of the Steelers’ reach in the offseason. But if there’s any way for him to go out, assuming he’s on a different team next season, it’s a lot better to burn brightly than never at all.