As is always the case, the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2021 are going to look different from how they looked a year ago. While that applies especially to the offensive side of the ball, given the retirements and the free agents that are expected to depart, you also have players like Bud Dupree, and others like Mike Hilton, hitting the open market as well.
But the defense will also be getting Devin Bush back, who was injured in the first half of the season. The 10th-overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Bush had a very successful rookie season with over 100 tackles and six defensive takeaways, though he fell short of making the Pro Bowl.
While he had the statistics, there were obviously areas of his game that could have been improved upon, and that includes the mental aspect. The Steelers wanted him to set the defense from day one, but that didn’t come to fruition during his rookie season.
It did this past year, getting the green dot on his helmet, and there were definitely moments where you could see that he had stepped things up, particularly when he was working in zone coverage, arguably his biggest weakness.
Bush recently took part in a Steelers Nation Unite Q&A session with fans, and he was asked about being a young player and transitioning to the NFL level. “From college to the pros is definitely a big jump. The speed of the game is a lot faster”, he said. “My second year, things were slowing down for me. Things were coming together”.
Again, I think that’s something we saw in his play, though I feel he was getting better over the course of the year, and unfortunately we missed out on seeing him for the majority of 2020. Obviously the hope is that he will continue to grow into potentially an All-Pro player when he returns next season.
“For next year, we’ve just got to stay the course”, he said about the Steelers as a whole. “We’ve just got to get our reps in. We’ve got to have a team goal set, offensive and defensive goals set, and we’ve just got to continue to work at it and fight our way through the season”.
The defense led the league in sacks, was second in takeaways, and also finished among the league leaders in points allowed. There was a lot of good going on in 2020, in spite of what it might sound like when you listen to the most vocal fans.
Hopefully, Bush will be one of the brightest spots of the 2021 season. After all, he was meant to be just that, which is why the Steelers paid a pretty steep price to go up and get him two years ago.