The Pittsburgh Steelers will have an important decision to make during the offseason when it comes to inside linebacker Devin Bush and that relates to his fifth-year option for the 2023 season. As things stand right now with four regular season games remaining in the 2021 regular season, it seems almost certain that Bush will need to play that an All-Pro inside linebacker to close out this year if wants the Steelers to seriously consider picking up his fifth-year option during the spring.
On Monday, Bush, who registered just 61 total tackles, two tackles for loss, two sacks, there passes defensed and a forced fumble on the season, was asked during his media session if he thinks much at all about his fifth-year option decision being on the immediate horizon and if he thinks the Steelers will ultimately decide to pick it up during the offseason.
“No, not really,” Bush said. “I mean, I just play football, honestly. I go week-to-week and so I don’t even know who we play next week yet. And I’m probably gonna figure that out Wednesday. But I would love to be here [in Pittsburgh]. You know, if they want me here, then they will show, but I don’t think about the business side of it yet. But I would love to be here.”
Bush’s play this season has been very disappointing overall. In fact, he’s even been pulled off the field quite a few times so far this season and that’s something you never want to see happen with a starting inside linebacker that was originally drafted in the first round. whether or not Bush’s play in 2021 is really being impacted by his previous 2020 knee injury and subsequent surgery and recovery is something only he really knows for sure. That said, Bush looks like he is back to having the same kind of bursts that he had prior to his Week 6 ACL tear in 2020.
As far as Bush’s play goes so far this season, he let it be known on Monday that it could’ve been better to date.
“Early this season, it was definitely a learning process for me, just getting my mind back in football mode,” Bush said. “But towards the middle of the season, I was going through some more mental issues of just being out there and knowing I have to make plays and winning was my biggest thing. And up until this point, man, I think I’m settling pretty good. And I got a lot of stuff to build off of. A lot of things during the season that I did good. A lot of things during the season that I didn’t do so well. So, I mean, we always have got something to work on. So, it just gives me a map of where I need to start and you know, what I need to work on.”
Bush was given a few chances on Monday to blame the bulk of his 2021 play on his 2020 knee injury and especially when it comes to the mental aspect of him getting past it all. He was specifically asked if he feels like he’s playing fast enough and reading and reacting well enough at this juncture of the season from the mental aspect and as it relates to expectations.
“Yeah, I mean, I feel like if I wasn’t reading or reacting, you know, that fast, then I wouldn’t be starting.”
With four games now remaining in the regular season, the Steelers are still very much alive when it comes to the playoff race. They will, however, likely need to win at least three of their final four games to have a shot at qualifying for the playoffs. In short, one would think that Bush should receive plenty of playing time in these final four games. If the Steelers are to win three of their final four games, they will likely need Bush to play at least a little bit better and more consistent than he’s played so far this season. Whatever the plan is for Bush in the final four games, he’s ready to play as much as the coaching staff is willing to play him.
“I’m a football player,” Bush said on Monday. “Whatever my coach tells me to do. You know, if my coach wants to pull me out of the game, then he pulls me out of the game. If my coach wants to put me in a game, then he puts me in the game.”
As a point of reference, Bush played 83% of all defensive snaps in the Steelers Week 14 Thursday night road loss against the Minnesota Vikings. He’s been used roughly that same percentage of defensive plays the last four games and only one time this season has he logged more than 90 percent of all snaps in the game. That one time was in the Steelers overtime tie against the Detroit Lions back in Week 10.