The Pittsburgh Steelers are back in the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex earlier than they had anticipated, having been ousted from the postseason in the opening round, which unfortunately marks a slight improvement from the past two seasons, during which they did not even qualify for the playoffs altogether. They have now done four seasons without securing a victory beyond regular season play.
Yet again, they find themselves undergoing the exit meeting process earlier than anticipated, which means so are we.
They did manage to go 12-4 during the regular season, and secured their first AFC North title since 2017, posting a new franchise record by opening the season with 11 consecutive wins, but of course it all fell apart after that. Their only victory after that required a 17-point comeback.
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 2020 season.
Player: Devin Bush
Experience: 2 Years
The Pittsburgh Steelers had three starters land on the Reserve/Injured List in 2020 with torn ACLs. Perhaps the most impactful on their ability to have success was that suffered by Devin Bush, their second-year former 10th-overall pick, who was a plug-and-play performer at the mack inside linebacker position.
While he wasn’t lighting up the league prior to his injury, finishing his season with 26 tackles, one sack, and two quarterback hits in the roughly four and a half games that he played, the loss of his speed on defense was very evident throughout the rest of the season.
Even though reserve Robert Spillane played admirably filling in for Bush once he went down, again, it was the overall team speed, and the hit that it took with his absence, that was very obvious, and that affected both the run game and the passing game—especially coverage against tight ends and running backs.
I think it was probably in coverage, especially in zone coverage, where Bush was flashing the most growth from year one to year two prior to going down. He may have had splashier numbers as a rookie, including six turnovers and over 100 tackles, he had his rookie issues, especially when it came to ‘global’ concerns.
Entering year two, the coaches slapped the green dot on his helmet and entrusted him with the responsibilities of setting the defense. It’s possible that that was a bit of an adjustment period for him, especially with the truncated offseason and the lack of a preseason.
I fully expect him to come back in 2021 and hit the ground running, becoming the player the Steelers knew they were drafting when they took him, and in fact traded up for him. Plenty of great players overcome ACL injuries these days, and he will be one of them.