It wasn’t a great day Sunday for Pittsburgh Steelers’ rookie Devin Bush. The lowlight being the 11 yard touchdown he gave up to Colts’ TE Jack Doyle on 3rd and goal in the first half of Sunday’s win. We’re going to break down what went wrong and just as importantly, how Bush learned that hard lesson and corrected it later in the game.
Let’s start with the score. Doyle is running what’s commonly called an angle or “Texas” route. Traditionally run by backs out of the backfield, the principle here works all the same. Outside stem and fake to get the linebacker to commit and then break across his face to the inside.
Bush bites here. Jumps outside on Doyle’s head fake and can’t rally to the hip in time as Doyle breaks over the middle. Touchdown.
Bush didn’t have to bite like this. It’s 3rd and goal. Just make the tackle and get off the field. No need to gamble. And he’s clearly the better athlete. He can be wait Doyle out, play the hip, and let the tight end declare the route. Bush has the athleticism to match and make the play.
He got a chance for some level of redemption later in the game. Doyle runs a similar route in the second half, though it ends up being a dig as opposed to the angle. But like on the touchdown, Doyle wants to head fake outside and cross his face. But here, Bush gets his eyes on the hip (hips never lie, they’ll take you to the ball), and breaks as Doyle makes his cut to the inside. Remains in-phase, able to play to the hip pocket and breaks up the throw.
This is still a net loss. Giving up the touchdown and breaking up a 2nd down throw. But it’s important to see Bush learn from his mistakes. The only thing worse than screwing up once is screwing up twice. Shows a high football IQ and ability to adjust.
The more experience he receives, and yes, the more mistakes he makes, the better off he’ll be and soon enough, he’ll pair that elite athleticism with recognition and technique. That’ll make him one of football’s best cover linebackers.