Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Devin Bush’s struggles have been known. After a promising rookie season in which he finished third in the Defensive Rookie of the Year voting, the former Michigan Wolverine tore his ACL in his second season. He hasn’t returned to the same player since then, failing to show the same burst and confidence in his game.
So far in training camp, the result has been mostly the same. Bush has been too inconsistent and looked lost at times. Those ups-and-downs continued into the opening preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks. In fact, he’s no longer a guarantee to start at inside linebacker, alongside Myles Jack. Veteran Robert Spillane is now battling it out with Bush for the other starting spot on the inside. Spillane may even have the upper hand at the moment, but it seems likely that the two will rotate snaps come the regular season, regardless of who starts.
Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin enters his first season at his new position with the Steelers. He’s been the team’s secondary coach since 2019 and takes over for Keith Butler, who was let go as the team’s defensive coordinator after last season’s poor defensive performances. A guy like Devin Bush is the key to success for Austin and his defense in Year 1. Austin didn’t hold back when asked about Bush, specifying what needs out of the fourth-year linebacker.
“Sometimes as coaches, we like guys that know their assignments and do their assignments, but they never make a play. The whole deal is being able to do your assignments AND make a play. That’s really what we’re looking for in Devin.”
Bush’s struggles stem from a lack of confidence it seems, something that’s been missing since the major injury. He also seems to process things on the field just a bit too slow, which is an important trait for a middle linebacker. Austin’s comments seem to somewhat echo that, as he perhaps loses track of his assignments at times.
Linebackers coach Brian Flores will also play a crucial role in trying to turn Bush’s career around. In fact, the Steelers declined Bush’s fifth-year option. That’s despite the team using a 10th overall pick on him just over three years ago, when they even gave up draft capital to move up and select him. The black and gold rarely do said things, so it shows the kind of player that they believe Bush can be.
Flores’ impact has already been shown in Jack’s game, who has been of the team’s better defenders all of camp. If he stays healthy, Jack could turn out to be a steal from his two-year, $16 million deal that he signed earlier this off-season.
Nothing that Austin said is wrong, and it perhaps was just said to try and motivate Bush. For Bush, it does seem to be a make-or-break year for him. That is, his career in Pittsburgh. If he wants to stay in black and gold long-term, he’ll have to turn things around and prove he’s worth a big contract.
Do you guys think Bush can bounce back in his fourth season? What are your expectations for him in 2022 and beyond? Will he be on a different team next year? Let us know your thoughts on Devin Bush, as well as the comments made by Teryl Austin!
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