The Pittsburgh Steelers should, in theory, have one of the best inside linebacker pairings in the NFL. They have a top-10 draft pick paired up with a Pro Bowler who has been scooping up the interceptions in recent years.
The duo of Devin Bush and joe Schobert haven’t been taking the league by storm, but they certainly haven’t been the team’s biggest concern. And with the former still playing his way back from a torn ACL—and then a recent groin injury—and Schobert only about a month or so into his tenure with the team, it’s not surprising if there is still some growing to do.
“I think we’re just two good players”, Bush said of the combination of himself and Schobert and how they are working together, when speaking to reporters yesterday. “We know how to play the position. We’ve been playing the position for a while, so there’s nothing really new for us”.
Communication is key, however, and so far, Schobert has been the primary communicator, the one with the speaker connected to the sideline in his helmet. “It’s going good”, Bush offered on how they are communicating. “I think we’re doing a good job with it. We have no difficulties with it, so I would say it’s on a good track”.
Bush was the one who set the defense last year, at least up until he tore his ACL in week six. He has done it at least occasionally so far this season, as he has sometimes been the only middle linebacker on the field in the dime defense.
When Schobert was brought over, acquired via trade in August, however, the Steelers gave themselves options. He has been setting defenses for years, and is also familiar with playing in a number of different defenses, playing for a new defensive coordinator virtually every year of his career.
The fact that Bush spent most of the offseason recovering and Schobert wasn’t even here, though, leaves a lot of developmental time on the table as they continue to figure out who works best for what role, something they are taking on a week-to-week basis.
“Just depending on the defense, what we want to get accomplished that week”, Bush said when asked how they determine which role they will play. “It could be mixing and matching. Whatever matches up that week, we feel like if it’s the best for us, we’re gonna do it”.
Both Schobert and Bush have had their struggles in coverage so far this year. Both have also been heavily targeted, and have given up a touchdown. We can only hope that we haven’t seen the best of what either of them has to offer yet.