The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: Rookie inside linebacker Devin Bush, who won the fan voting for the AFC, should be a Pro Bowler this year.
Explanation: While the conventional refrain is that the Pro Bowl is a popularity contest, that really applies a lot more to the fan voting portion of the voting, which only makes up a third, and those numbers tend to heavily favor whichever teams are doing really well, or even sides of the ball. The Steelers, for example, had four defenders finish at the top of their position, among them rookie Devin Bush.
Though he didn’t rank particularly high in total tackles on the season, only a few players who have more tackles this season than Devin Bush have as many tackles for loss. Nobody in the AFC has as many fumble recoveries as he does, either, with four. Add the two interceptions on top of that and he is among the league leaders in takeaways. That’s always a good way to get noticed.
Plus, he has a sack and a forced fumble on top of that. Overall, he has played a well-rounded game all season, and has made the sort of impact plays that are less noticeable, making tackles for no gain that could have gone for four, or tackles for four yards that could have gone for 10-plus. His speed and diagnostic abilities are already at a very high level, so why not recognize it?
Fumble recoveries are among the most random statistics, however, and one can argue that one of Bush’s interceptions wasn’t even successfully caught. He hasn’t had a big impact since the bye week, with just a forced fumble and a pass defensed. He only has 40 tackles over the course of the past eight games.
So much of his resume is built on his first six games, and that’s what fans are voting on. All of his takeaways came during that time, but he had dramatically cooled off since then. And he’s still been playing 65-75 percent of the snaps, so it’s not like he hasn’t had the chances he had before.