Up next in our “Coach ’em Up” series, we have linebackers coach Frank Bush.
The Athens, Georgia native was a three-year starter at N.C. State before being selected in the fifth round of the 1985 draft by the Houston Oilers. As a rookie, he started 11 of 16 games, recording three sacks on his way to All-Rookie honors. Bush would start the first three games of the 1986 campaign before an injury examination revealed he had a narrow spinal canal, thus rendering it too risky to continue his career.
Bush was hired by the Oilers the following year, serving as their college scout until 1992 and was then promoted to linebackers coach, heading the position until 1994. From there, Bush was a member of Mike Shanahan’s back-to-back Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos from 1995-2003, serving as the team’s linebacker (’95-’99), secondary (’00), and special teams (’01-’02) coach. He then moved onto Arizona from 2004-2006, serving as the Cardinal’s linebackers coach and assistant head coach his final season; Bush contributed to the development of star linebacker Karlos Dansby while total defense ranked 12th and eighth in 2004 and 2005 respectively.
That stint lead him to Houston from 2007 to 2008 as he served as the Texans’ senior defensive assistant under head coach Gary Kubiak. Before the 2009, season Bush was promoted to defensive coordinator as they set new franchise lows for fewest points allowed per game (20.8) and yards allowed per game (324.9). Under his tutelage, Mario Williams and DeMeco Ryans became Pro Bowlers while Brian Cushing earned Defensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2009. Despite being fired after a porous 2010 season, Bush was hired by the Tennessee Titans as the franchise’s linebackers coach from 2011-2012. He mentored and developed Akeem Ayers and Colin McCarthy, who posted two impressive seasons and served as catalyst for their defensive success.
2013 was Bush’s first as a Ram coach, heading a young unit (three of the six ‘backers were rookies) who’s leading tackler, Alec Ogletree, was a first year player whose 155 tackles were a team-high and his six forced fumbles were tied for third in the league; James Laurinaitis posted his fifth consecutive, 100-tackle season. The following season, ‘Tree and Laurinaitis went 1-2 in tackles again with 169 and 168 respectively as Olgetree posted four forced fumbles for the NFL’s second most in that two year span. Laurinaitis also recorded 100 tackles for the sixth straight year and post his seventh this past season.
Entering his 25th season, Bush brings valued experience to a team with talent at such position. Ogletree has solidified himself as a leader and a playmaker, while Mark Barron’s permanent move to Will and Akeem Ayer’s, who spent time under Bush in Tennessee, improvement is important for the growth of the defense. Bush’s experience will take ‘Tree’s game to the next level as Mike is his more natural position, and a full year at Will should further Barron’s production. His success with younger players will be pivotal to the growth of Josh Forrest and Bryce Hager who may see rotational time as well.