Monday, January 16, 2023

The Steelers’ pending free agent posts a cryptic tweet during NFL wildcard weekend

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The NFL brought back the “wild” on wild card weekend this year to start the 2023 NFL Playoffs. Four of the weekend’s five games ended in the last two minutes of regulation.

Although the Pittsburgh Steelers weren’t playing, they also appeared to be providing drama for fans at Wild Card Weekend in the form of a Devin Bush tweet.

“Playing for a former NFL player…” Bush tweeted a “thinking” emoji on Jan. 14 during the Jaguars-Chargers game.

It’s obviously not clear who Bush was referring to in his tweet, but based on the timing of his post, the most logical guess is Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson.

At 9:26 p.m. ET, the Jaguars began their comeback against the Los Angeles Chargers, who led 27-0 in the AFC wild card matchup thanks to 4 interceptions from Jacksonville quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

But the Jaguars stuck to their game plan and reduced the lead from the second quarter. Pederson’s game plan finally worked, especially after the Jaguars regrouped at halftime.

In the second half, Jacksonville beat Los Angeles 24-3, including 11-0 in the fourth quarter. The Jaguars won 31-30 with a last-second field goal.

Pederson’s coaching shone in the comeback. Most notably, he called an outside run when the Chargers anticipated a fourth-and-one quarterback sneak during the final drive. Running back Travis Etienne gained 25 yards in the game to set up the game-winning field goal.

Prior to coaching, Pederson played quarterback in the NFL for 10 years. He started 17 games and went 3-14. He completed 54.8% of his passes for 12 touchdowns and 19 interceptions in 100 games.

He spent most of those 100 games as a backup on the sidelines. Pederson served as Brett Favre’s backup in two different stints. His first season behind Favre was in 1996 when the Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl.

If Bush was indeed referring to Pederson in his tweet, he may have some interest in joining the Jaguars after seeing them play in the postseason.

Bush to Jacksonville is obviously pure speculation at this point. But the former first-round pick is set to become a free agent in March.

The Steelers traded 10 spots for the right to draft the linebacker 10th overall in the 2019 NFL Draft. Bush finished third in Rookie of the Year voting and seemed on his way to stardom, but he suffered a cruciate ligament rupture in Week 6 of 2020 and hasn’t been the same player since.

Last season, Bush recorded 81 combined tackles, including 2 tackles for loss and 2 quarterback hits in 14 starts. But he didn’t have a single sack, interception, or forced fumble.

Bush played a career-low 62% of Pittsburgh’s defensive snaps this season. In 2020, before he suffered his injury, he played 90% of the team’s snaps on defense.

Bush’s playing time also decreased over the course of the 2022 season. He’s played less than 55% of the team’s snaps on defense in each of the last four weeks.

Over the last two games, Bush played a total of 10 defensive snaps.

Whether he has the chance to play for the Jaguars or another head coach who has played in the league will not be decided until March. But it’s pretty clear how the end of the 2022 season went that Bush won’t be back in Pittsburgh.

Bush’s playing time also decreased over the course of the 2022 season. He’s played less than 55% of the team’s snaps on defense in each of the last four weeks.

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