Replacing Devin Bush is a challenge on multiple fronts. There’s his obvious athleticism, 4.4 speed that’s next to impossible to find at linebacker. There’s also the dot he wore on his helmet, the green circle that indicated he was the defensive signal caller, relaying information from Keith Butler and Mike Tomlin to the rest of his teammates. Robert Spillane wore the green dot replacing Bush following his season-ending ACL tear Sunday and it sounds like going forward, Spillane will continue to occupy that role. CB Cam Sutton spoke with the media Monday and said he expects Spillane to be the defensive quarterback moving forward.
Via Steelers.com’s Teresa Varley.
According to Cam Sutton, Robert Spillane handled the play calling on defense Sunday after Devin Bush was injured against the Browns and doesn't expect that to change.
— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) October 19, 2020
Spillane played every single snap after replacing Bush Sunday. That included being the lone linebacker on dime packages, though the team seemed to use that grouping a little less than normal after Bush left the game.
Assuming Spillane is the guy for the job the rest of the season, he’ll make the jump from backup who never played on defense to an every-down, all-situations player. Certainly a night and day difference. The good news is Spillane played well against the Browns, recording six total tackles (five solo) and one TFL. That stop for a loss came on a big hit against TE Austin Hooper, a failed screen that lost six yards.
— Alex Kozora (@Alex_Kozora) October 19, 2020
Spillane’s calling card has been physicality, reliability as a tackler, something that’s made him a quality special teamer. He’s also impressed in past training camps. Here’s what we wrote about him in 2019, giving him a camp grade of a “B.”
“Sneaky good camp for him. Average athlete, at best, but takes good angles to the ball and is a physical, impactful tackler. He translated the work he saw in backs on ‘backers to games, killing RBs and picking up a pair of sacks already.
Got picked on quite a bit down the seam, some of those were bad matchups I can’t blame him for, but he’s played well enough to deserve a practice squad spot.”
Spillane will face a familiar foe in his first NFL start this weekend. Undrafted in 2018, he initially signed with the Tennessee Titans and spent the summer and part of the fall with him until Pittsburgh inked him to a futures contract in February of 2019. However, he doesn’t have a lot of experience tackling Derrick Henry, a tall task this front seven will be faced with when the two square off.
Robert Spillane said when he was with the Titans in training camp they didn't tackle to the ground very often, so he doesn't have too many reps against RB Derrick Henry from his time with the team. #Steelers
— Steelers Depot 🏆👑 (@Steelersdepot) October 19, 2020