Devin Bush Likely To Play More Sunday, Mark Robinson To Play Less, Says DC Teryl Austin

If you were excited at the idea of seeing a lot of Mark Robinson on the field for Sunday’s finale against the Cleveland Browns, prepare to be disappointed.

Though Robinson played well across 26 snaps in Week 17’s win over the Baltimore Ravens, DC Teryl Austin pumped the brakes on Thursday, noting Robinson is likely to see a reduced role against the Browns. And that Devin Bush, who hardly saw the field until Myles Jack left the game, is likely to play more.

Speaking to reporters, Austin explained why the snap counts could shift this weekend.

“We’re gonna need Devin to play depending on what package we’re in,” Austin side in audio provided by the PPG’s Brian Batko. “That was pretty specific last week, what we were doing in Baltimore. And I would expect that you’ll see Devin a little bit more this week.”

While Robinson saw a big jump in snaps against the Ravens, it’s important to understand why. He was part of a specialty package, the Steelers’ 4-4 defense (adding a DL and removing a CB) that matched Baltimore’s big people, chiefly FB Patrick Ricard and TE Josh Oliver. Pittsburgh employed Robinson and DL/OLB DeMarvin Leal to combat those heavy looks. Of the 26 4-4 snaps, 24 of them came against 22 personnel, one-receiver sets. Meaning, when the Ravens went heavy, so did the Steelers. It was an effective package, the Ravens having just a 30% run success rate against that look.

But the Browns don’t have the exact same personality. Robinson’s usage and the Steelers’ 4-4 was a response to specific personnel and Baltimore’s identity. The Browns use far more two-receiver sets, meaning the Steelers won’t play in their 4-4 defense.

Earlier today, our Owen Straley outlined the benefit of that package.

Even against the Ravens, when Baltimore didn’t go as heavy, Robinson hardly played. Of the 21 snaps in which the Ravens had two receivers on the field, Robinson only played on two of them. For the other 19, he was off the field, replaced by Jack or Bush. For Robinson, it was the same story in Week 15 against the Carolina Panthers, playing only in 4-4 groupings where the Panthers went ultra-heavy with just one wide receiver on the field.

Bottom line. Unless the Browns go ultra-heavy like the Ravens did, Robinson isn’t likely to have a significant role. Most likely, Myles Jack – if he plays – will be the team’s base inside linebacker while Bush works in nickel. Robert Spillane will serve as the everydown linebacker playing in base, nickel, and dime.

Defenses win by playing the chess match against offenses. They’re always the unit who responds to what the offense does. They don’t dictate terms. Pittsburgh smartly used a specialty package to deal with Baltimore’s personality. The Browns have a slightly different style and the Steelers will adjust their gameplan, just like every other defense in the NFL does. Fans won’t want to hear it but they should expect it going into this weekend’s finale.

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