There are no easy answers in replacing Devin Bush. Mike Tomlin admitted there are plenty of options on the table. One option that isn’t though is moving Terrell Edmunds from his SS spot to something more akin to an ILB role. Keith Butler was asked about that possibility Thursday. He told reporters he would prefer not to make that switch.
“Right now, we have who we want in there,” Butler said via the team transcript. “We feel pretty good about what we have in here. We don’t want to make a bunch of changes unless we have to. We want the guys who have played their positions at their normal place. [Terrell Edmunds]’s done a good job playing the safety position. There’s nothing that we want to do to move him.”
Edmunds’ current role is somewhat similar to an inside linebacker. As the strong safety, he spends plenty of time supporting the run near the line of scrimmage. He’s been in the box on 25.5% of his snaps in 2020. He’d be a combination of physicality and athleticism to try and replace what Bush brought to the table.
But as Butler points out, moving Edmunds is playing an unnecessary game of musical chairs. Just in the way the team is hesitant to move two offensive linemen to replace one, it’s a similar idea here. Edmunds is having his best season and has improved even in coverage. Our Owen Straley gave Edmunds high marks for his performance in Week 6 against Cleveland, giving his play an A- grade. Here’s what Owen wrote:
“Moreover, Edmunds has finally progressed as a tackler, and serves as an asset for the Steelers in the run game, more than capable of manning weak side linebacker duties in certain packages.”
Changing up his role obviously takes away from that and runs the risk of stunting his growth and development, just as it did to Sean Davis early in his career. Davis moved around from SS to slot corner back to SS and then to FS.
Funny enough, if the team wanted to move Edmunds, Davis would be the likely man replacing him at safety. Signed back to the roster after being released by Washington, Davis has yet to play a defensive snap this season. His last defensive snaps came Week 2 of last season.
Butler also noted the confidence in the current ILB backups. Robert Spillane will largely fill Bush’s shoes this weekend against Tennessee with Marcus Allen and Ulysees Gilbert III possibly working into sub-packages. It’s also possible a guy like Davis sees a role in the dime defense, especially if Mike Hilton isn’t able to suit up. Though after Hilton went down last weekend, Justin Layne became the 6th DB, Steven Nelson kicked to the slot, and Cam Sutton maintained his dime role.