Jerry Olsavsky isn’t giving up on Devin Bush just yet. Olsavsky, the Steelers’ inside linebackers coach, went to bat for Bush in speaking to the media Tuesday, believing he’ll respond in a big way after a turbulent 2021 season.
“Devin Bush is a great player,” Olsavsky told Steelers.com’s Mike Prisuta. “Sometimes people have good years, some people have bad years, good pays, bad plays. But the measure of you is how you respond to adversity, we know that our whole lives.”
Bush is coming off a terrible 2021 season, one year removed from a torn ACL that doomed his sophomore year less than halfway into the 2020 campaign. Bush worked hard and was medically cleared for the start of training camp but did not look like his confident, athletic self. That was evident during the summer and in our training camp wrap-up, we noted his play ran hot and cold.
“His play on the field was mixed. There were positive moments, especially on underneath throws against Najee Harris in 1v1 and in team sessions. But he did tend to get beat downfield, especially against the Eagles, and he needs to improve his technique. To me, Bush tries to initiate too much contact and gets knocked off-balance because of it.”
Things didn’t improve once the games started to count. He had a decent showing in the opener against the Buffalo Bills, but his play slid from there. He missed Week 2 against the Raiders and slowly saw his role reduced throughout the year, though Pittsburgh had difficulty finding someone to turn to. By the team’s final game of the season, their playoff loss to Kansas City, Bush saw barely more than half the snaps. A far cry from the Steelers’ vision of the next Ryan Shazier, a 100% snap player, when the team traded up for him in the 2020 draft.
Despite the largely rightful criticism, Olsavsky thinks Bush will rebound in a make-or-break 2022 season.
“I know Devin and I’m confident he’s gonna step up.”
Bush has had the full offseason to focus on football, not healthy, which will give him a better foundation to work from this season. The Steelers’ defensive line likely won’t be the messy group it was a year ago while the hire of Brian Flores can only help improve Bush’s game.
Still, Bush has to prove himself and ultimately, no one is going to make him a better player except for himself. Should Olsavsky’s words ring true, Bush may have a future in Pittsburgh. Terrell Edmunds saw his fifth-year option declined and still returned this year, albeit after two months of sitting in free agency. But if Bush’s play doesn’t take a noticeable step forward, he’ll be wearing a different uniform in 2023.