Is Steelers LB Devin Bush struggling because of lingering injuries?
By Tommy Jaggi
Devin Bush has not been the same player he was before his ACL tear. Is the Steelers linebacker struggling because of injuries?
When the Pittsburgh Steelers traded their 2019 first and second-round picks to move up for Michigan linebacker, Devin Bush, they thought they were getting a defensive stud that would take the place of Ryan Shazier and elevate Keith Butler’s defense to the best in the league.
Sadly, that hasn’t been the case. During his rookie season, Bush showed promise with his ability to create splash plays. He earned 2 interceptions, 4 fumble recoveries, 1 forced fumble, 1.0 sack, and 9 tackles for a loss in his first 15 NFL games, according to Pro Football Reference. Since then, however, Bush has almost been void of any sort of impact entirely.
However, it’s possible that this could have more to do with injuries than anything else. While Bush wasn’t making a lot of splash plays early in the 2020 season, his performances were getting more consistent. Unfortunately, the young linebacker suffered a torn ACL just 5 games into his second year.
Are Steelers LB Devin Bush struggling because of injuries?
It’s not easy recovering from a torn ACL — believe me, I’ve experienced one myself. However, it’s certainly possible to get back to full strength. The question now becomes: is Devin Bush struggling because of lingering injuries or is he just not improving?
Let’s start with what we know. Based on my assessment of the film this year (and I think most would agree), Bush has been quite unspectacular. He almost appears to be lost at times and he has struggled in both run defense and pass coverage this season. According to Pro Football Reference, the former first-round pick has allowed 13 of 15 passes to be completed in his coverage for a 116.1 passer rating this season.
Pro Football Focus currently has Bush rated as the 50th best off-ball linebacker this season with a very underwhelming grade of 54.0. It’s really hard to refute this as Bush has hardly made a positive impact on defense through the first 6 games of 2021.
We hope that this is due to him currently still in the recovery process. It was encouraging to see Bush practice all through training camp and take part in the season even with his ACL tear last season. However, he just doesn’t look like the same player we saw coming out of Michigan. In addition, Bush has been dealing with a groin injury this season — which can clearly affect a player’s burst and ability to change directions laterally.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are currently on their bye week and will have two full weeks to prepare to play the Cleveland Browns. Hopefully with a bit more time to recover, Devin Bush could look like a new player in the second half of the season this year.