The Pittsburgh Steelers are not too happy with a former first-round draft pick’s development.
According to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, the Steelers have grown frustrated with third-year linebacker Devin Bush. His over-pursuit in run coverage and his liability in pass coverage have caught the attention of Steelers brass.
The Steelers defensive unit currently ranks 23rd in points allowed and 28th in rushing yards allowed — a major contrast to the franchise’s identity over the years.
“The Steelers leveraged significant draft capital and went counter to their usual draft process to move up 10 picks to select Devin Bush 10th overall in 2019, but frustration with Bush’s development are becoming more obvious,” via La Canfora. “Bush has struggled mightily this season, caught out of position at times and often over-eager to make a play, leading to him being benched occasionally and prompting questions about how to better unlock him, sources said. Bush is well liked and has a good attitude, but has been a liability in pass coverage, is not making an impact rushing the passer and has struggled in the run game for a defense that has fallen off mightily from its recent heights.”
ALL the latest Steelers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Steelers newsletter here!
Steelers Defense Now a Below-Average Unit
The Steelers’ defensive woes has made Bush’s struggles even more glaring, as they’re allowing 5.4 yards per carry over their past seven games while allowing the fifth-highest passer rating in the NFL, as La Canfora notes.
The Steelers gave up tons of draft capital to pick Bush with the 10th overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft. Pittsburgh traded the 20th and the 52nd picks in the 2019 Draft along with a third-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft to the Denver Broncos.
Pittsburgh made the move with the intention of making Bush their franchise middle linebacker following the career-threatening spinal injury of Ryan Shazier. After a bright rookie campaign that saw Bush finish with 109 tackles, a knee injury in 2020 has appeared to slow the young linebacker down.
How Steelers Are Masking Bush’s Weaknesses
La Canfora goes into detail about how the Steelers are trying to make the game easier for Bush — while also masking his weaknesses.
“Bush suffered a serious knee injury his rookie season and has not been the same,” said La Canfora. “The Steelers altered his role this year to try to facilitate his adjustment, with him not wearing the green dot and in-helmet communication with coaches, alleviating the need to get others aligned and allowing him to focus on his play. But things are not trending in a positive direction for Bush, or the Steelers defense, which is allowing a staggering 5.4 yards per carry in the past seven games while also allowing the fifth-highest passer rating in the NFL. Hiding Bush’s deficiencies has not been easy, and with the defensive line also undermanned, teams are getting to the second level too quickly, exacerbating the problems.”
There is no doubt that Bush is struggling this season. Among players at his position, Bush ranks 80th out of 83 qualifying players in defensive grade (32.6), according to Pro Football Focus. The most glaring of Bush’s issues stem from his clear struggles in run defense department, registering a 26.2 grade in run defense — the worst mark on the team.
The Steelers are struggling as an entire franchise. So to potentially pin the blame of a unit’s struggles on one player is a bit far. But it’s very clear that a once bright prospect is struggling and becoming a detriment to the defense.
That is very much cause for concern considering his first-round draft billing and what the Steelers expect out of Bush.