The Seattle Seahawks made two free agent signings at the linebacker position this free agency period that couldn’t be any more different. Bobby Wagner represents a future Hall of Famer returning to Seattle’s starting lineup after a year with the Los Angeles Rams, whereas Devin Bush is looking to get his career back on track after some difficult years with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Seattle should be familiar with Bush, because two of his five career fumble recoveries came against the Seahawks. Now we hope that he can recover fumbles on Seattle’s behalf and resemble the player he was at Michigan.
Earlier this week I asked Behind The Steel Curtain managing editor Jeff Hartman about Bush’s time in Pittsburgh, where is all went wrong for him, and if he has a chance to be a solid contributor in Seattle.
1.) What were Devin Bush’s strengths in the Steelers defense prior to his ACL injury?
Devin Bush is considered an undersized inside linebacker, but he used his speed and athleticism to make him a Top 10 draft pick for the Steelers. After he tore his ACL in his second season the one thing which separated him from other inside linebackers is what was taken away from him. He didn’t have the same burst, lateral speed, and overall sideline-to-sideline speed. What is really sad for Steelers fans was how he was playing before he injured his knee. He was settling into the role the Steelers drafted him for, to be able to cover WRs, RBs, TEs in the slot, all while being able to flow to the ball with aggression. He never regained those abilities after his injury.
2.) It seems Steelers fans grew frustrated with his play after he returned from injury. Were his struggles as bad as fans believed it to be, and where were his weaknesses most pronounced?
His first year back to the lineup after his injury (2021) was really tough to watch. Bush was getting swallowed up by blockers, taken out of the play with ease and not showing any real fight in his game. Most fans just chalked it up to him being hesitant after a serious knee injury. Last season saw Bush take a step forward, but he never did return to the form which fans were seeing in Year 2 before his injury. It isn’t as if fans expected him to play as if he was never injured, but to at least get a little bit of fight back in his game. That never happened.
3.) Did Devin show any bright spots towards the end of last season that may have sparked some interest in bringing him back to Pittsburgh?
If I’m being completely honest, the answer is no. At season’s end everyone knew Bush was going to be going elsewhere. The moment the Steelers didn’t pick up his 5th year option it seemed to be written on the wall Bush was gone. So, when he was meeting with other teams no one was surprised. Also, no one was really upset about it either.
4.) How can the Seahawks best unlock Bush’s potential, or at least have him rediscover his rookie season form?
The biggest question doesn’t have anything to do with the Seahawks, or their coaching staff. It’s all about if Bush is a player who is fully recovered from his injury, and is mentally prepared to play the brand of football which had him be a Top 10 draft pick. That answer was ‘no’ in Pittsburgh, but if he can get back to that point in Seattle he could be a contributor to the defense.
Thanks to Jeff for answering those questions, even though his answers may not exactly provide a ton of optimism for Bush as a starting caliber linebacker. We’ve made a lot of medical advancements through the decades but not everyone recovers the same way after a catastrophic injury.
Hey, let’s just hope he actually plays, because the last time the Seahawks signed a former Steelers player it was B.J. Finney.
Stay tuned because we’ll have another one of these for former Giants safety Julian Love.