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Steelers Film Room – Bud Dupree Makes The Small Things Count

Sometimes stats are not a perfect representation of a player’s performance in a game. For third-year outside linebacker Bud Dupree, although his number thus far this season may not indicate so, but he is quietly having a strong season. After four games, the Pittsburgh Steelers defense is ranked as one of the top units in the NFL, Dupree has played his part making this happen. In Sunday’s game against their division rival Baltimore Ravens, Dupree may not have filled the stats sheet as many would expect him to do each game, but his role in this particular game was instrumental in ensuring that others around him would benefit from his efforts.

Getting Into the Backfield

On many occasions in this game, Bud Dupree found himself in the backfield, making the pocket an uncomfortable place for Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco.  In this play, the Steelers’ defense is lined up in a hybrid 3-4 Eagle front; note there is no nose tackle. Dupree is lined up a few inches from the line of scrimmage in his trademark 2-point stance. From the snap, Dupree stunts inside and uses his speed to force Flacco to get rid of the ball; a few more seconds would have resulted in a sack. Although the pass was completed on this play,  Bud Dupree and the Steelers’ defense made it very clear that Flacco would have a difficult time throwing the ball comfortably on this day.

Bud Dupree Takes on Double Team

This particular play is one that should be appreciated, as his role indirectly led to the sack by Steelers cornerback Mike Hilton.  For the Steelers’ defense in this play, there are several different activities taking place from the snap: rookie outside linebacker TJ Watt fakes the rush and drops back into coverage, linebacker Ryan Shazier is seen rushing the c-gap, and Hilton is seen blitzing from the d-gap.  In the midst of all this activity, Dupree rushes inside and is soon double teamed by the Ravens guard and center on his side. While Dupree takes on this double team, defensive end Cameron Heyward is able to find an open space around him; at the same time, Hilton is able to beat the Ravens tackle and get the sack.  From an observation standpoint, if Dupree had not taken on that double team, either the Ravens guard or center could have aided the tackle in preventing Hilton from getting around.  Inadvertently, Dupree gave the Hilton time needed for that sack to materialize.

Dupree’s Hit on Flacco

On this play, Dupree finally was able get to Flacco and in a big way. From the snap, he quickly takes on the chip block from the Ravens receiver.  Even with this brief distraction, Dupree stunts the A-gap and displays his closing speed as he accelerates towards Flacco and makes the big hit along with Steelers defensive end Stephon Tuitt.  Dupree displays in this clip the incredible speed that many in Steelers organization knew he had when he was drafted in 2015.

The Steelers’ defense is off to an incredible start. Each player on the defense has contributed in some way to the success of this unit thus far into this season. Although Bud Dupree is not getting the number of sacks that he perhaps envisioned before the beginning of the season, he is getting the job done in a variety of ways, and is only going to get better with time.

Born and raised Ottawa, Ontario Canada, Kelly is a Steelers contributor to The Point of Pittsburgh. Formerly a contributor for SBNation's 'Behind the Steel Curtain'. Kelly can be reached via the Twitter handle @kanozie80