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Vince Williams Preaches Patience With Devin Bush: ‘If He Buckles Down, He’s Going To Have A Great Career’

Few players have taken the amount of heat Devin Bush has. Entering a critical fourth and final year of his rookie deal, 2022 is make-or-break for him. Bush has taken shots from the fanbase and even ex-players like Merril Hoge, who unleashed a recent torrent of criticism his way.

But Vince Williams remains optimistic and believes Bush can still turn around his career, meeting the lofty expectations he had when drafted. He said as much during a Monday appearance on The Arthur Moats Experience with Deke. 

“You gotta understand, Pittsburgh is like the Lakers,” Williams said. “He has a lot of eyes on him. The expectations are set so high because you have phenomenal first round picks. Like Minkah. You have phenomenal first round picks like Ryan who was the protégé of athletic linebackers. You have the protégé of athletic linebackers in Lawrence Timmons. The standard is ridiculous. It’s like, Defensive MVP or bust.”

Everything about Devin Bush screamed high expectations. His own athletic profile, low 4.4 speed to replace Shazier, a tremendously athletic linebacker who was playing elite-level football before suffering a career-ending spinal cord injury. Pittsburgh not only drafted Bush but traded up to do so, moving from #20 to #10, making it only the third time in Kevin Colbert’s career he traded up in the first round. The other two selections were Troy Polamalu and Santonio Holmes. One is in the Hall of Fame, the other caught a Super Bowl.

Three years in and Bush hasn’t me the mark. He showed progress after an average rookie season but tore his ACL in October of 2020. He missed the rest of the year and though he returned to start last season, played at a fraction of his potential and by year’s end, was rotating off the field. But Williams believes the circumstances, the injury and the injuries around him, contributed to a poor season.

“When somebody has a nasty ACL injury like that, clearly their progression has been halted. Or at least slowed down. Then you miss Tyson Alualu and freakin’ Tuitt, I would’ve looked like freakin’ garbage out there.”

Pittsburgh’s run defense finished 32nd in the league last year, allowing 5.0 YPC and multiple 200+ yard games. Statistically, it was the team’s worst run defense in history. Bush played a role in those woes, make no mistake, but he wasn’t the sole reason for their struggles. The issues began up front and a struggling defensive line doesn’t make life any easier on the linebackers.

Two years removed from the injury and with a better-looking defensive line, Williams believes Bush can turn his career around, just as Bud Dupree when he got away from the injury bug. But he believes everything is up to Bush and his willingness to be great and agrees the Steelers were wise to decline his fifth-year option.

“I text him right after they [declined it] and said, ‘go get $15 million next year…go to the Pro Bowl and be like, ‘now the rabbit has the gun.’ I think it’s always better to bet on black anyway. Put the ball in my court.”

A free agent to-be, the ball is now in Devin Bush’s court. A strong season will open doors to a long-term deal in Pittsburgh or elsewhere. Another poor year and Bush will be remembered as a player with potential who didn’t do much with it. Williams still believes the former scenario is on the table.

“If Devin truly buckles down, he’s going to have a great career here.”

Check out the whole conversation by clicking the video below.

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