Why 2022-23 Is A Big Season For Devin Bush

April 10, 2022
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When the now 23-year-old linebacker arrived in Pittsburgh, the buzz was palpable. Pittsburgh did something they have done very few times in the past, trade up in the draft. Originally holding the 20th pick in the first round of the 2019 draft, The Steelers knew they couldn’t stay where they were and get Devin Bush. Sending a package of picks, including the 20th pick in the first round, a second-round pick at 57, and a 2021 third-rounder, Pittsburgh was able to move up 10 spots to the Broncos pick and get their man.

Devin Bush The Michigan Man

Bush put together a solid career at Michigan. You probably remember him most for going to stomp out the Michigan State logo but he was much more than that. Coming into the draft, Bush was the reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and a consensus All-American. He was a two-time Dick Butkus Award Finalist, the award given to the nation’s top linebacker. Bush didn’t see the field much in his freshman year but exploded onto the scene in his sophomore year. For Michigan in 2017, Bush totaled 95 total tackles, 44 being solo tackles and 51 being assisted. Bush also managed 10 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks with an interception.

The linebacker was set to build on his solid sophomore campaign in his junior year at Michigan. Playing one less game than he did the year prior, Bush was able to amass 66 total tackles, 41 solo, and 25 assisted. He also had 8.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. Bush was part of leading the Wolverines to a 10-3 record. It was time for Bush to head to the draft.

2019 NFL Draft

Bush’s pro player comparison on draft night was “Faster Denzel Perryman”. Perryman just had maybe the best season of his already solid career last year. On draft night, Former NFL receiver Steve Smith said he was a “problem solver for a defense”. In the Kevin Colbert era, the Steelers have rarely traded up. They’ve done it three times, for Hall of Fame safety Troy Polamalu, the one and only Santonio Holmes, and now Devin Bush. Very elite company to be in for Bush.

Figuring Out The Pros

It’s been an odd three-ish seasons for Devin Bush. He came out of the gates firing in his rookie campaign. 109 combined tackles, 72 solo and 37 assisted, and nine tackles for loss including a sack. Bush also had two interceptions on four passes defended to go with a forced fumble and four fumble recoveries, one being a touchdown. He finished third in Defensive Rookie of the Year voting, getting beat out by Maxx Crosby of the Raiders and the winner of the award, Nick Bosa from the 49ers.

Things were looking up for Bush in year two. Five games in, Bush was putting together a decent sophomore season when disaster struck. When making a tackle he tore his ACL, promptly ending his season. Bush finished the five games with 26 combined tackles, 16 solo, and 10 combined. He had already matched his previous year’s QB Hits with two and sacks with one. A tough injury for a linebacker with some confidence building on his rookie season. Luckily, Bush would have the rest of the season and all offseason to rest and rehab. He would be ready for Week 1 of the next season.

2021 was a fresh start for Bush as he came back ready to play. With the departure of veteran Vince Williams right before the season, Pittsburgh went out and got Joe Schobert from Jacksonville to pair with Bush. It seemed like a good match but the experiment only lasted one year. Running games thrived against the Steelers linebackers. Bush ended the season with 70 total tackles, 41 solos, and 29 assisted. Four QB Hits to go with two sacks and tackles for loss. In coverage, Bush had four passes defended and the tipped pass interception in the Playoffs against Kansas City. Bush found himself off the field in some situations down the stretch of the season.

Fresh Faces

The Schobert-Bush duo would end after one year when the Steelers cut Schobert to pair Bush up with Myles Jack. Jack was the former teammate of Schobert in Jacksonville. Jack played exceptional against the Steelers in the 2018 playoffs when the Jaguars stunned the Steelers. He had five solo tackles and an interception as Jacksonville advanced to the next round. Bush should also benefit from new Defensive Assistant and Linebackers Coach Brian Flores, an addition to the staff nobody saw coming. Former Defensive Backs Coach Teryl Austin has also been promoted to Defensive Coordinator. Between the veteran mix of Jack, Flores, and Austin it appears the Steelers are putting the right people in Devin Bush’s corner. If Stephon Tuitt returns this year it should also be a big help to Bush along with rotational play from Robert Spillane.

Devin Bush has been put in one of the best situations Pittsburgh could have come up with for him. Last year was his first season coming off an ACL tear, which in a contact sport like football can affect everything. It can have players more hesitant to get out there and let it rip. Hopefully after a full season and offseason, Devin Bush will be ready to get back on track this season. It’s a contract year for him, so it very well could best his last as a Steeler if he is a no-show.