Devin Bush was drafted to be a centerpiece for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense for a generation. The 10th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the linebacker out of Michigan hasn’t yet quite left the mark one would expect from such an elevated draft position, but his teammates are not concerned.
Nor are they interested in the apparent disappointment in the third-year ‘backer. “People can say what they want; I think Devin’s been playing well”, defensive lineman Chris Wormley told reporters earlier today when asked about Bush. “I think he is doing what he’s supposed to do. And it’s less than midway through the season, so we have a whole two-thirds of the season left to go, and I’m excited for him to continue to progress”.
After spending his rookie season as a full-time starter, tallying over 100 tackles with two interceptions and four fumble recoveries, including a touchdown, Bush was only limited to five games last year before he tore his ACL. He played every snap up to his injury, but this year has been logging about 80 percent of the snaps.
“I mean, it’s essentially his second year, right? He’s still learning”, Wormley added. “But we have all the confidence in the world [in him], coming off of a major knee injury last year. I know I’ve had a few pretty big knee injuries, and it takes a little bit to come back to full strength”.
The thing is, some of the concerns that we have about what Bush has been putting on tape so far this season have nothing to do with the physical part of the game, but rather the mental. Of course, you can argue that the two are tied together, and that it takes reps to get the mental part down again.
Bush, who has missed one game this year due to a groin injury, has started five games, logging 256 snaps. He has totaled 25 tackles, including two for loss, with two sacks, four hits, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. He has yet to be credited with a pass defensed, of which he had three in five games last season.
The Steelers acquired former Pro Bowl linebacker Joe Schobert in August, who has spent the majority of the time wearing the green dot, and has played about 87 percent of the snaps. In recent weeks, they have begun using Robert Spillane as their dime linebacker for reasons that, frankly, the coaching staff has yet to fully articulate when posed the question.
The position as a whole has been a source of some consternation for simply not getting to, or finishing, as many tackles as they ought to. Schobert in particular has missed a number of tackles on the season; Bush is equally as likely to overrun a play and miss even a tackle attempt. The defense certainly needs to get cleaner play out of the middle of the field coming out of the bye week.