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Steelers Coach Keith Butler Sets Record Straight On Rookie LB Jarvis Jones

Shortly after the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted linebacker Jarvis Jones in the first-round of the 2013 NFL Draft, I speculated that the Georgia product might be doing well to see 100 snaps of playing time during his rookie season because of the complexities involved in learning the defense. On Wednesday, linebackers coach Keith Butler pretty much backed up my thoughts when he talked to the media after practice.

\’\’He doesn\’t exactly know what we require from him,\’\’ Butler said per Will Graves of the Associated Press. \’\’It\’s not like in college, even though he played outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. It doesn\’t mean he can be plugged right in.\’\’

Butler didn\’t stop there when talking about Jones as he also let it be known that he wasn\’t going to jeopardize the defense in order to get him playing time.

“You play people when they\’re ready to play and what I mean by that is when they know what they\’re doing,” said Butler. “If they don\’t know what they\’re doing, they hurt the dadgum defense, and then it\’s not fair to the rest of the guys to have him out on the field. He knows that and I\’ve talked to him about it. So before he plays, he\’s got to know what he\’s doing.”

As we sit here right now in June, Jones is behind first-year starter Jason Worilds and possibly even second-year linebacker Adrian Robinson, who is getting a good portion of his reps on the right side. Butler was asked about Worilds on Wednesday, and he had positive things to say about the fourth-year linebacker.

“He\’s doing very well. He\’s doing good,” said Butler. He understands the situation, and all of them do. It\’s a competition between all of them. But you know what, I\’ve never had a situation where I can play three guys and have confidence in them that they\’re going to be pretty good. So we\’ll see what happens.”

If you think that Butler was including Jones in his three players, he wasn\’t and Missy Matthews clarified that on Wednesday\’s edition of Steelers Live. She said Butler was referring to Worilds, Robinson and Chris Carter, who has been getting the majority of his snaps in practice on the left side behind starter LaMarr Woodley.

To wrap up his thoughts on Jones, Butler said they are still trying to break him of some bad habits that he carried over from his playing days at Georgia.

“In college, he kind of freelanced a little bit, and we\’re a little more disciplined in what we ask them to do and the techniques we ask them to use in the passing game,” Butler said, according to Alan Robinson of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “All he did (at Georgia) was drop straight back and look at the quarterback. We\’re asking him to do a lot of different things in terms of pass coverage, and that\’s not one of them. We\’ve got to get him out of that habit, and he\’s willing to get out of that habit.”

The only thing that Jones has in common with former Steelers linebacker Kendrell Bell, who was the last rookie to start on defense in Week 1 of the regular season way back in 2001, is the fact that both came out of Georgia. There is a lot more to playing the outside linebacker position in the Steelers 3-4 defense then just rushing passer.

Safety Troy Polamalu best described what it\’s like for a Steelers rookie defensive player on Wednesday.

“It\’s like trying to teach algebra to basic math,” Polamalu said. “You\’ve got to almost erase their career and what they\’ve learned to this point and start anew with this defense.”

Baring a few injuries, Jones will likely spend most of his rookie season trying to force turnovers on special teams while learning more about the defense in practice. If he\’s lucky, the Steelers will blow out a few teams during the regular season so that he can get a few snaps of real playing time. In other words, I wouldn\’t pencil him in as a candidate for the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award.

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About Dave Bryan

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • dgh57

    None of this is news to me, but Dave I got a chuckle out of your last sentence!

    Jones is playing with the big boys now, so we’ll learn soon enough what he has to offer.

  • Sven_Hunkstrom

    Other teams are able to integrate rookies into defenses from the outset. If our schemes are so complicated they can’t be grasped by rookies, they need to be simplified or our coaches need to do a better job of teaching.

    In this era, especially considering our age and depth issues, we cannot afford to waste an entire year of productivity at rookie wages on a redshirt.

  • TJimmy

    OLB’s in Lebeau’s system have to cover the pass. It takes a good while to learn how to do that, and it sounds like Jones has done very little of it. Perhaps that’s the biggest hurdle.

  • TJimmy

    I would much rather see Lebeau continue his trend of having the top defense in the league over pandering to rookies.

    Worild’s should do well this year, barring any injuries.

  • John A Stewart


  • Dan


  • Matt Searls

    Why are our olbs pass protecting? I hate the pick of Jarvis jones as an o lineman..

  • 2443scott

    i think way butler is talking hes getting alot media pressure and wanted everyone to know he isnt pluging in far as butlers comments he was saying jason was 4th year guy who is ready what if james was still here would steelers be looking at now a jason wallace like prob all year long ….i find it hard at times for every 4th year guy being ready or bust mind set ….jones isnt ready and wont be for another year as much as i like to see him play ..but i dont want to wait till that 4th year to hear now lets play him ….maybe butler dont like to play rookies but some guys he plays arent any better then a rookie at times .

  • Jason Brant

    I think it’s pretty clear that some people who are saying he’ll get over 100 snaps, myself included, aren’t using the term ‘barring a few injuries’. I don’t believe that he’ll beat out Worilds for the job this year, but we’ve been devastated by injuries the past few seasons.

    So yeah, I think the odds of him getting 100+ snaps are good. Don’t get me wrong, I’d much rather have everyone healthy and Jones sitting on the bench for his first year, but recent history hasn’t been on our side.

  • steeltown


  • steeltown

    If we didn’t have Worilds.. I would completely agree with you.. but like always we have guys in front of the rookies that have been around and have earned the right to showcase their abilities.

    If it doesn’t work out, Jarvis will start in 2014

  • steeltown

    There is no reason to not play Worilds in 2013.. he’s been groomed, he’s ready and he’s hungry.. and it allows Jarvis to learn the pass protection side of the Defense for a full season. If Worilds fails to impress then Jarvis starts in 2014.
    Its pretty simple

  • Ahmad

    I hope this tempers some of the unrealistic expectations that a lot of people of Steeler Nation have about Jones. He’s not gonna start people so forget about it. He has to be broken down and built back up to the Steeler way just like everyone else.

  • steeltown

    Interestingly enough I think A.Robinson might even be ahead of Jarvis on the depth chart, atleast right now, that may change by seasons end

  • charles

    Can’t agree here. Could it be that we have lost or been in so many close games is because we did not have rookie testosterone? LeBeau is great but I wish he would install some simpler defensive plays just so we can use some of Jones rookie energy, or either of the two Williams.

  • charles

    Why on earth would we draft Vince Williams then in your opinion?

  • Jason Brant

    I dream of Robinson and Jones pass rushing on opposite sides in the future. Could be amazing.

  • PA2AK

    would really like to hear what about Butler’s tenure gives you the feeling he is a lazy LB’s coach. Is it his ability to plug in almost any LB of any skill level and have them produce year in and year out? I think most coaches hate playing rookies…good coaches are perfectionists…very rare that a rookie can get the mental/technique requirements of a new team, let alone adjusting from being the big man on campus to being another fish in the pond.

  • PA2AK

    did i just fall into a troll trap or did you go full ret@rded

  • charles

    I think and hope that Robinson could be the splash defensive player that Mr T is always talking about. Like to see Mcfadden get on the field as well. I am sorry for the Foote fans but it is time for him to be a backup.

  • PA2AK

    Exactly. Worilds isn’t going to be a perennial probowler, but he knows the system and is ready to start. crazy people discount someone that is behind Harrison and Woodley on a depth chart…hard to get in a groove when you are behind those two. He should be a solid player this year.

  • Matt Searls

    Couldn’t resist. Before he edited it, it said our olbs need to pass protect.

  • PA2AK

    OK, i was worried for you bro

  • steeltown

    Foote will start in 2013… 2014 might be a different story

  • steeltown

    I think so.. plus if Woodley goes down, Worilds can kick over and play on the left side giving A.Robinson and Jarvis Jones opportunity to start on the right side

  • TJimmy

    They will get some snaps on simpler plays I’m sure, but they won’t start until they are ready.

  • Matt Searls

    haha no worries brah

  • Pete

    I’d have to agree the odds are against him starting at ROLB this season. But Ed Bouchette ran an article saying Jones may end up starting simply because he’s not a college DE have to learn brand new how to be an NFL OLB in the 3-4. Jones played in the 3-4 in college so his learning curve is shorter than if he had been a DE. I’m curious to see how this will play out but what I’m hearing so far is that the coaches really like this guy and what he brings to the defense.

  • Pete

    Jones dropped into coverage in college because he played in the 3-4 at Georgia. He just has to learn the Steelers way of doing things but he’s much further ahead in the scheme of things than the typical DE who is converting to OLB.


    All of this talk about who is ahead of who on the depth chart. Were not even into training camp yet.


    His defense may have been #1 in yards allowed, but they didn’t play like a #1 defense. no turnovers, and folded in the 4th quarter numerous times. 6th in points allowed while being on the field 27:50 minutes per game.

  • Jazz

    Preach Brother! Preach!

  • Jazz

    And if they installed simpler/vanilla packages that leads to the defense getting toasted, you will probably be the first one on here complaining. The system is in place, no need to disrupt anything.

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