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: Devin Bush will have success replicating his takeaway ability from the early portion of his rookie season.
Explanation: Even though he was very highly-regarded as a draft prospect, one thing that Devin Bush did not do in college was produce a lot of the moments we conventionally have come to call ‘splash plays’ namely takeaways. In fact, over the span of three seasons at Michigan, he had just one. after recording six in the first half of his rookie season, he only forced one fumble in the second half of the year.
The timeline in which the takeaways occurred is less significant than the reality of their occurrence. The pure fact is that Bush recorded six takeaways in 2019, which was among the most by any defensive player in the NFL. And he did that on a defense that, amazingly enough, produced three other players who also recorded at least six takeaways, so he was in fact competing for those numbers.
A lack of turnovers does not demand the lack of ability to produce them. We know Bush is capable of catching footballs and knocking them out. We’ve seen him do it, and he will only be better-equipped to do so in 2020 with a full year under his belt. He has the speed, power, and instincts to make plays on the ball, whether it’s in the air, on the ground, or in the arms of a ball-carrier.
First and foremost, four of Bush’s takeaways were fumble recoveries. This is one of the least predictive and consistent statistics there is, because, by and large, it means little else than that he was in the right place at the right time. That’s nice to have, but we’re not talking about Ed Reed here.
As far as his interceptions go, one was off of a deflection, and the other, I’m still not convinced actually was successfully intercepted. This also came on a pass that was originally nearly caught by the tight end.
If you actually look at the quality of Bush’s takeaways and attempt to grade them, overall, I think the majority of them would rank relatively low on the ‘ability’ meter that it took to record them. The odds of his being replicable are not in his favor, and his history doesn’t suggest it will carry over either.