Last season may have not been a breakout season for second-year defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs, but it was certainly a giant leap in the right direction.
Buggs saw an increase in defensive snaps, an increase in tackles, but most importantly, an increase in production. For a player who once posted 9.5 sacks with Alabama, Buggs proved that the was unafraid of playing in moments when the game is hanging in the balance.
Against the Baltimore Ravens in week eight, Buggs made two key stops, the most notably on a 4th-and-3 draw run by Lamar Jackson, that would enable the Pittsburgh Steelers to squeak out a victory. What made the play even more impressive, was his ability to predict the play well before the snap.
I believe that they tried to run that draw on that last play, and before we got started, I told them, ‘man, I think it’s gonna be a draw this play, so you guys can get upfield and I’m gonna just sit at the line of scrimmage and wait and read his eyes and what he was gonna do.
In addition to making big plays when it is necessary, Buggs proved to be a reliable asset down the stretch, as the injuries along the defensive line started to mount. Though all was not perfect for Buggs, as their run defense suffered when Tyson Alualu was absent from the roster.
With both Alualu and Chris Wormley set to become free agents, Buggs should see an increase in snaps, if any of them were not to be signed. If Buggs is able to display the type of form that made him successful against the Ravens, then the starting role may be soon a part of his future.