Now that the regular season has begun, following yet another year of disappointment, a fourth consecutive season with no postseason victories, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen and are seeing over the course of the offseason and the regular season as it plays out. We will also be reviewing players based on their previous season and their prospects for the future. A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasoning. In some cases, it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances, it will be a direct response to something that just happened. Because of this, we can and will see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: ILB Devin Bush
Stock Value: Down
Reasoning: The third-year inside linebacker has struggled this season coming back from a torn ACL, and that was most evident during the Steelers’ Sunday loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.
At the risk of incurring the wrath of his former first-round pick, Super Bowl champion father, Devin Bush Jr. is not playing well right now. Whether or not that has much of anything to do with the fact that he tore up his knee about 13 months ago, I’m not informed enough to say. But even without knowing the minutiae of every single one of his assignments on every single play, it’s fair to say that he could be playing a lot better this year.
He played a key role in allowing two of the Los Angeles Chargers’ touchdowns to running back Austin Ekeler on Sunday, one of which saw him in one-on-one coverage. The other one was a rushing touchdown, on which it was difficult to discern him actually making any meaningful attempt to disengage from a second-level block, the back walking in untouched from four yards out between defenders.
I don’t want every conversation surrounding Bush’s play to gravitate toward pedigree and the future, but the bottom line right now is that he is not giving this defense a satisfactory level of performance from the inside linebacker position, and that is a reason to be concerned.
It’s not as though every one of his performances has been this bad, and that does have to be said. But he has played poorly since the bye week, which is not very encouraging. And one has to wonder at what point they might have to consider taking some of his snaps in non-dime packages in favor of Robert Spillane.