Bud Dupree isn’t going to win any popularity contests in Pittsburgh anytime soon. A couple of sacks in the preseason, or my evaluation of some of his snaps, is not going to change anybody’s mind about the Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker as he heads into his fifth year.
But he had a pretty good game on Saturday, especially when you consider that, by his own words, he and the team were working on a lot of things. One thing that was evident was that they were running a lot of tackle-end stunts on the Dupree/Cameron Heyward side of the field, which I’ll show a bit below. It didn’t yield results at first, but paid off in the long run.
I do like his first snap of the game, though, obviously working against first-team personnel. A lot of criticism falls Dupree’s way for his inability to play to his strength consistently. It’s not that he doesn’t have speed. It’s not that he doesn’t have power. It has been a struggle to convert one into the other. But he does this here on a short dropback that does make Patrick Mahomes get this ball out a bit awkwardly.
It’s a couple plays after that we see the stunt work start to kick in, on third down. It doesn’t work here, though in fairness on this rep he plays the role of the crasher, who tends to be the occupied rusher who frees up his partner in the stunt. Either way, they get off the field.
They kept doing this stunt, but midway through the quarter, it works, and Dupree got home for his first of two sacks on the day. Unfortunately the Chiefs’ broadcast didn’t provide any quality replays of the play (and that’s what’s up on GamePass, but you can still get a feel for the development of the play. the front four had good pressure all around.
Dupree and T.J. Watt talk about being a deadly combo this year. Plays like this make it tempting to think about. Watt wins around the arc against the right tackle. Dupree is playing contain, while Javon Hargrave actually follows the running back, and the right outside linebacker bats the ball down.
Although it came against backup Cameron Erving, his second sack was a nice look at his form. He’s never going to have elite flexion getting around the perimeter, but he does well enough here, and better than we have seen from him on average—in part due to past injuries—so if he can keep that up this season, maybe he can finish those sacks he’s been missing and pick up double digits.