Bud Dupree has always been a good player. He's just never been great, and at outside linebacker, fans want to see sacks, forced fumbles and splash plays on the stats sheet.
In 2019, Dupree's doing that. And he's playing the run as well as anyone on the team. And now the league recognizes it as well, naming Dupree the AFC Defensive Player of the Week for Week 9 of the regular season.
“He has been a monster, as has T.J. Watt,” Mike Tomlin was saying of Dupree after the Steelers' 26-24 win over the Colts Sunday at Heinz Field. “They are really setting the pace off the edge and providing the wave that the rest of us ride defensively.”
In that contest vs. the Colts, Dupree rang up two sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery, highlighting a five-sack effort from the Steelers defense as a whole.
And, yeah, that strip-sack and recovery was sweet, but I personally liked seeing this from Dupree on Sunday:
That's everything that's been touted about Dupree from day one. Strength, speed, pursuit — it's all there, and it was technically sound along the way.
That wasn't his best play in the win, though. His best play wasn't the strip-sack, either.
Nope, his best play is the perfect example of why you can't look solely at the stats to determine how well a player performed on game day. This is his best play against the Colts:
The stats say that's a tackle for a loss, nothing more. But that was a crucial stop on 3rd-and-1 late in the game. That forced the Colts to kick a 43-yard field goal, an opportunity Adam Vinatieri shanked into the Allegheny River. Would Vinatieri have made the kick if the Colts convert there and move him closer? Would the Colts have simply moved on to score a touchdown?
Those hypotheticals don't matter because Dupree showed up and made the stop. And that's what he's been doing all season: Showing up. If you want flash, there's this:
Or that trifecta — forced fumble, sack, fumble recovery — against the Colts:
It's all been there in 2019 for Dupree, a year in which he's earning $9.2 million on a one-year, prove-it deal.
He's proving it, alright, and this latest award will simply bolster his case during the offseason. There's no guarantee the Steelers will be the ones cracking open the checkbook, but with Dupree's performance through 2019 thus far, it's safe to say somebody is going to dole out the dough for No. 48 this offseason.