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: Bud Dupree
Position: Outside Linebacker
Experience: 5 Years
Normally when I get to the linebackers, I go right down the formation, but this year, I figured I would stick by position for the starters. And since I covered T.J. Watt today, that would mean that Bud Dupree is up next, coming off his best season in year five.
The 2019 season was Dupree’s last best hope to really make an impression, not just on the Steelers, but on the league, because he is currently slated to become an unrestricted free agent in a little over a month. Pittsburgh can prevent that by signing him to an extension before then or placing the franchise tag on him.
This was hardly even considered a possibility for discussion a year ago, but he proved himself worthy of the conversation with his strong play last season, totaling 11.5 sacks—nearly double his previous best—with over 60 tackles, 16 for loss, 17 quarterback hits, and four forced fumbles, which is more than he had in his first four seasons combined. He recovered two of those fumbles himself.
Arguably the most significant difference for Dupree in 2019 is the fact that he won with better quality in his pass rush and thus was able to finish more plays. While he didn’t necessarily succeed in generating a lot more pressure, he registered more effective pressure, and did so more convincingly against tackles.
But his most impressive performance was against the run, where he was one of the Steelers’ best defenders. He had great success in this area, as indicated by the number of tackles that he had behind the line of scrimmage, which is a continuation of a pattern for him.
Dupree is not a Pro Bowler, but he is a good starting edge defender. Unfortunately, the going rate for exactly that on the open market is costly. He will be paid, and handsomely. It’s just a matter of who will be signing those checks. From the sounds of it, the Steelers fully expect it to be themselves, for 2020 at least.