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.
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.
Finding ways to best deploy Bush and keep him on the field, at a time when his struggles have escalated, has not been easy, although injuries and a Covid exposure within the linebackers group has compromised their depth and left the coaches with fewer alternatives. When the Steelers dealt picks 20 and 52 in 2019, plus a 2020 third-round pick, to Denver to land Bush, it was with the intent of him replacing Ryan Shazier (who suffered a career-ending spinal injury) as the middle linebacker and central nervous system of the defense.
Bush suffered a serious knee injury his rookie season and has not been the same. 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.
The Steelers rank 25th in yards allowed per play and have given up over 900 yards and 82 points in the past two weeks.