Should the Pittsburgh Steelers give up on linebacker Devin Bush?
By Tommy Jaggi
The Pittsburgh Steelers may need to bite the bullet on their investment, but is it too early to give up on linebacker Devin Bush?
At what point does enough become enough? This is a question the Pittsburgh Steelers must be asking themselves right now after witnessing yet another abysmal performance from linebacker Devin Bush.
In 2019, the Steelers packaged a first and second-round pick to move up to the 10th overall selection in the NFL Draft to take the standout Michigan linebacker and former Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. So far, that’s looking like a colossal mistake.
Though injuries certainly could have contributed to his slow progress, the arrow actually seems to be pointing down on Bush right now — which is hard to believe considering the struggles he has had since early in the season. While it takes time to recover from a torn ACL, we can only use this excuse for so long.
This year, Bush seems to be lacking instincts, physicality, and aggressiveness, as well as the ability to consistently take good angles, tackle, and make splash plays. Quite frankly, there really isn’t anything that Bush has even been doing at an average level this year — that’s how poor his play has been. So at what point do we give up on the young linebacker?
Should Steelers bite the bullet on Devin Bush?
In years past, the stubbornness of Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert caused them to turn a blind eye to the atrocious play of players like Jarvis Jones and Artie Burns. Despite the many shortcomings of these players, the Steelers decided to stick with them for far too long because of the draft capital they spent to acquire them; rather than admitting that they had made a mistake or moving on when they should have.
Could the same things be happening now with Devin Bush?
With the way the third-year linebacker has played, it’s hard to think of a lot of reasons why the Steelers would want to keep this experiment running. Bush has arguably been the worst starting linebacker this team has had in a decade and he just doesn’t seem to be making any progress.
Still, there is reason to stick with him over the alternative options… at least, for now.
While things do not look the least bit promising at the moment when it comes to Devin Bush, he is still the most athletic linebacker on the team with decent upside. However, the coaching staff needs to get him playing more aggressively again. As a rookie, Bush was far from perfect, but he flew around to the ball and made splash plays (2 interceptions, 9 tackles for a loss, 1 forced fumble, 4 fumble recoveries, and a defensive touchdown, via Pro Football Reference). Lately, however, Bush always seems to be late to the play.
Another reason to stick with him, for now, is because the depth behind Bush isn’t very good at all. We’ve seen the limitations of a player like Robert Spillane. As an older linebacker with very limited athletic traits, he’s not the answer. In addition, the Steelers apparently don’t trust rookie Buddy Johnson enough to put him in that situation, while Marcus Allen and Ulysees Gilbert are strictly special teams players at this point in their careers.
The Steelers must get better play out of the linebacker position, but there is no guarantee things will turn around anytime soon. Sadly, Devin Bush might be the best option the team has for now. Pittsburgh just needs to hope that he can finally get it before the end of the season.