If you are a Pittsburgh Steelers who watches the preseason, and most who frequent this website are exactly that type of fan, you saw what Devin Bush put on tape in his limited time during the exhibition season. He was fast, athletic and every bit of what he was billed as a Top 10 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Fans were left salivating wondering what the inside linebackers would resemble with Bush and Mark Barron right next to each other. Visions of Julian Edelman being smacked down, and numerous tight ends being blanketed in coverage was a sweet image in every black-and-gold mind this preseason.
With the Steelers’ Week 1 game vs. the New England Patriots on Sunday Night Football just a few days away, a big question many were wondering his how the Steelers will use Bush in the first live regular season action of his NFL career. Mike Tomlin spoke about Bush during his weekly press conference, and threw some items onto the tracks to slow down the Devin Bush hype train — at least at first.
“We have a bunch of young guys who could play some significant roles for us, but we also understand it’s their first time in a stadium. So we have to manage that, some of the Devin Bushes of the world and guys like him who have a chance to be big components of what we do, but you also have to balance that with the fact it’s their first time stepping into a stadium.” Tomlin stated.
This is likely one of the main reasons why the Steelers’ first official depth chart of 2019 showed Barron and Vince Williams as the starting inside linebackers. But let’s not get lost in the shuffle here. Bush will play, and play a lot, but fans should realize the team will want to ease him into a game vs. Tom Brady. After all, as Tomlin pointed out in his press conference, you don’t trick Brady often, and the communication has to be on point for all four quarters.
“I’m less concerned about tricking (Brady) and matching wits (with him),” said Tomlin. “I’m more concerned about Week 1 things: Our level of communication; our readiness; our positioning; our eyes. We have to make sure that those things are consistently above the line. If we don’t, he will exploit them. This is the issue for us as it relates to (Brady) at this stage of the season. It’s a different matchup than in 2018 when we were playing them in the latter part of the year, when divisions of labor and what you could expect from both us and them was more established.”
Bush is responsible for a lot of that communication Tomlin spoke of Tuesday, and although he has been lauded for his efforts in this area, when the real games start it is a different beast.
The ultimate question in this scenario is what if Brady starts to target Vince Williams, who lacks speed in coverage, and uses a hurry up to keep him on the field? If that is the case, you should settle in to seeing Bush play more to avoid James White and/or Sony Michel running wild in the open field.
The Steelers want to ease Bush into the game, but don’t think they won’t abandon that plan if it means getting the fastest, and most athletic, defense on the field as much as possible.
Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for the Patriots this Sunday night.