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Steelers Analysis

Farabaugh: Robert Spillane is Real Competition for Devin Bush



Devin Bush Steelers

Devin Bush did not have the 2021 season that he envisioned. After coming off a Torn ACL, Bush struggled with having confidence in his knee throughout the entire season. Coupled with the Steelers’ defensive line struggles, Bush was put in a tenuous position to do too much, too often. So, when coming into training camp in 2022, there were high expectations for Bush to take the leap to the player he once was.

Thus far at training camp, however, Bush has not been much of a factor in either direction. He certainly has not been bad, but where are the splash plays from Bush in any regard? He lacks the high-end plays that would be expected of him at this point in the process. After all, playing next to Myles Jack should help him and take some pressure off him, right?

That has not been the case thus far at training camp. While Jack is playing at an extremely high level, Bush has just not done much of note. It is not that he has been good or bad, in fact, it has been a completely neutral camp for Bush. That can be viewed as both a good thing and a bad thing, but if someone did not know better, they would not feel Bush’s presence.

So, that is both concerning and a relief. Maybe Bush is just ramping himself up until the games start anyways. That could be it, but Bush does need to make some noise at some point to give some reassurance to the coaching staff. If not, there is competition for him lurking at the Buck linebacker spot.

Robert Spillane is the Competition for Devin Bush

The competition is Robert Spillane. Spillane’s NFL career has been weird NFL career, but he is having the best training camp of his career. In two weeks’ time, Spillane has made splash play after splash play, including an interception. His run defense needs no introduction, as he has been vocal and everywhere in those periods.

So, when the initial depth chart was released and Spillane and Bush were co-starters, it was almost brushed aside. However, there is legitimate competition with the way training camp has gone thus far. The Steelers have split the reps about even in their base packages, while Jack is usually the sole linebacker in the Steelers’ sub-packages. This competition will only get more serious as the pads continue to hit and the games roll around.

Spillane is a known commodity to a degree as well. He is a true throwback linebacker who lacks elite traits like Jack. Instead, he is simply a smart, tough-nosed football player who cut his teeth as a special teamer. His coverage skills are often not up to snuff, and that will hurt Spillane’s standing in any competition. Bush has the athletic upside to make himself valuable in coverage.

In fact, if Bush has stood in one area, it has been in coverage. In the team’s one-on-ones, Bush has mostly stuck with the running backs and tight ends. Even if the ball was completed, Bush would be right there to minimize the gain in the flat or on a quick dumpoff. It is not flashy, but that is where he has stood out in a good way. Aside from that, there simply has not been much noise.

The Steelers would probably like to give this job to Bush. He and Jack would be an incredibly athletic duo on the inside for the Steelers and could open up options for the schematic coverages. Spillane is doing a great job to push him, however, and if he can sharpen iron with iron to Bush, the Steelers’ strategy will have worked out perfectly.