2020 South Side Questions: How Much Will Bud Dupree’s Injury Hurt Steelers’ Pass Rush?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the regular season, following the most unique offseason in the NFL since at least World War II. While it didn’t involve a player lockout, teams still did not have physical access to their players, though they were at least able to meet with them virtually.

Even training camp looked much different from the norm, and a big part of that was the fact that there will be no games along the way to prepare for. Their first football game of the year was to be the opener against the New York Giants.

As the season progresses, however, there will be a number of questions that arise on a daily basis, and we will do our best to try to raise attention to them as they come along, in an effort to both point them out and to create discussion

Questions like, how will the players who are in new positions this year going to perform? Will the rookies be able to contribute significantly? How will Ben Roethlisberger look—and the other quarterbacks as well? Now, we even have questions about whether or not players will be in quarantine.

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.

Question: How much will the loss of Bud Dupree hurt the Steelers’ pass rush?

It’s interesting to see how Bud Dupree has gone from being a whipping boy to being taken for granted. The sixth-year veteran was well on his way to posting his second consecutive season of double-digit sacks when he suffered a torn ACL late in Wednesday’s victory over the Baltimore Ravens.

He recorded five tackles during the game, including two for a loss, and was having success as a pass rusher, including helping to clean up on one of teammate T.J. Watt’s two sacks during the afternoon, though he did not receive credit for it.

On the season, he now has 31 tackles with eight for loss, with eight sacks, two forced fumbles, and two passes defensed, in addition to 15 quarterback hits. While his work in the run defense is a topic all of its own, however, one must wonder what his loss will do to the pass rush.

The Steelers already had a hard enough time getting either of their starters off the field, but now they will have to cobble together an entire game’s worth of starter snaps for at least another six games—technically five, but it’s extremely unlikely that they don’t make the postseason.

Watt and Stephon Tuitt are having career years this season, and Cameron Heyward reminded us yesterday that he hasn’t gone anywhere either. The Steelers still have arguably the best front four in the NFL even without Dupree. But it’s been their single largest point of strength, and they just lost one of its cores. Their world-class pass rush has been essential to their 11-0 start, and Dupree’s absence takes it down a notch.

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