Merril Hoge blames Devin Bush: ‘Not a good football player’

Merril Hoge let Steelers’ Nation know his thoughts on linebacker Devin Bush. In a Friday interview with 93.7 The Fan, Hoge blasted him and his poor 2021 season after a torn ACL.

Here’s what Hoge had to say.

“I just think you have to cut the bait there,” he told the show’s Andrew Fillipponi. “He’s who he is. He doesn’t play great instinct. I don’t care if he’s a first round. I don’t care if he’s fast. He’s not a very good footballer. He doesn’t play smart He doesn’t play fast. He doesn’t even play with great leverage and great technique when he does and he hurts you. He doesn’t do anything that helps you. People target him in the passing game. They wear it now. It never got better there and it won’t get better there.

Ouch.

This is not the first time that Hoge has been so critical of Bush. He made similar comments in December last year, pointing to Bush’s poor hand use and overall questionable game above the neck.

There was no real game from Bush on defense last season. He wasn’t alone, but it was an objectively terrible year. He couldn’t get off blocks in the run game, rarely made plays in the passing game and didn’t look like the explosive linebacker the Steelers not only drafted but traded for. By the end of the year, he was losing snaps, being retired in dime packs, and occasionally rotating off the field.

After such a bad year, Pittsburgh predictably turned down the fifth-year option on him. Bush now enters 2022 in the final year of his rookie contract and will need to turn things around to stay with the Steelers. It’s a blow for a team that moved aggressively to trade him in 2020, moving up ten spots and trading a pair of Day 2 picks to acquire him. It appears to be Colbert’s only first-round trade that didn’t work out.

In Hoge’s mind, the Steelers should leave immediately.

“You have to cut the bait…you can’t win with that.”

The good news is that Bush has a better set of circumstances this year. He took an additional year out of his ACL tear and used that offseason to train for football, without rehab so doctors could clear him. Even without Stephon Tuitt, the Steelers defensive line should be improved from a year ago thanks to the return of Tyson Alualu, the progression of guys like Isaiahh Loudermilk and the team getting rid of any liabilities like Isaiah Buggs . Myles Jack is a better starting linebacker than Joe Schobert, which certainly won’t hurt, and coaching Brian Flores will be another plus.

In the five games leading up to his injury in 2020, Bush has shown promise and progression, especially in coverage. If he can get back to that level of play, he can change his career. If he can’t, he’ll still be playing football in 2023. It just won’t be in Pittsburgh.

Listen to Hoge’s full thoughts below.

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