The Pittsburgh Steelers ended the 2019 season much as they did the 2018 season, by allowing their playoff fate slip out of their grasp. Slow starts and slow finishes permeated both campaigns, with strong runs in between. But while the results were the same missing the playoffs, the means were quite different.
Yet again, they find themselves undergoing the exit meeting process earlier than anticipated, which means so are we. But that they still managed to go 8-8 without Ben Roethlisberger, and with the general quality of play that they faced along the way, I suppose things could have been worse.
While we might not know all the details about what goes on between Head Coach Mike Tomlin and his players during these exit meetings, we do know how we would conduct those meetings if they were let up to us. So here are the Depot’s exit meetings for the Steelers’ roster following the 2018 season.
Player: Devin Bush
Position: Inside Linebacker
Experience: 1 Year
One of two rookies who were starters this season, the other being third-round pick Diontae Johnson at wide receiver, Devin Bush was the Steelers’ target at the top of the draft. They knew that they needed an inside linebacker. They had been watching and studying Bush for years. they knew they had to make a bold move to get him.
And they did it. They sent the Denver Broncos their first- and second-round picks, as well as a third-round pick in this upcoming draft, in order to move up to the number 10 spot in the first round to get the Michigan man and plug him in for the next decade or so into their defense.
He responded by posting 109 tackles with nine for a loss, registering one sack, two interceptions, four passes defensed, a forced fumble, and four fumble recoveries, giving him six takeaways as a rookie after having just one over the course of his three-year collegiate career, alleviating arguably the biggest concern about him entering the draft—of very few. He returned one of them for a touchdown.
That is not to say by any means that he had a flawless first season in the NFL, or that there isn’t room to grow. For one thing, they still have to get him to a level of comfort at which he is able to seamlessly set the defense, wearing the green dot, while not hindering his diagnostic speed.
Reasonably, the Steelers expect Bush to make a significant jump from year one to year two. Perhaps it won’t stand out on the stat sheet—although he’s fully capable of putting up a 150-tackle season, and he’ll probably have more tackles for loss and passes defensed—but it will be on the tape.
We already saw him taking steps forward on a play-to-play level, correcting mistakes in-game and making reads that he was failing to see earlier in the year. There’s plenty of reason to be excited about the 21-year-old, who won’t turn 22 until July.