Jarvis Jones Looked Like A Rookie Against The Jets

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By Matthew Marczi

In the first professional game of his career in which he could call himself a winner, Pittsburgh Steelers rookie outside linebacker Jarvis Jones certainly had an up and down afternoon. At times, he showed some things that he had not before, both positively and negatively, but this article will focus on the negative.

Earlier this season, I highlighted some of Jones’ excellent work in the run defense, and how he used his quick first step to cut inside a blocking tight end to get into the backfield. Perhaps this tendency has been on tape long enough for it to be on opposing teams’ scouting reports, because the New York Jets exploited this multiple times throughout the contest, and he ends up looking like a rookie. Take his first snap of the game, for example.

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Here, he bites hard on a play fake by Geno Smith, faking the handoff but keeping it himself. With Jones pursuing the back, Smith has nobody in front of him for nine yards. As the edge defender, Jones cannot sell out so easily. He has greater responsibilities than that.

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This time, Jones simply gets turned aside by tight end Jeff Cumberland on a carry in his direction. This would have been a good time for one of those inside moves. To be fair, however, Jones was not the only issue on this play, with Troy Polamalu taking a noncommittal stance to any particular assignment and both inside linebackers taking the same gap, though the hole opened in the middle of the defense could have been large enough for three. Later, in the second quarter, his rookie teammate bails him out of a jam.

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Jarvis Jones gets caught overcommitting here, and by the time he realizes that the quarterback kept the ball rather than handing it off to Bilal Powell, it is too late for him to adjust and get his body turned to get anywhere near Mike Goodson. Fortunately for him, Vince Williams read the play properly and was able to put a stop to it—with Lawrence Timmons pitching in—after a short gain.

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At last, we have Jones simply whiffing on a tackle for a loss that, as a result, goes for an 18-yard gain. His approach is too tight against the line, which makes it easy work for Goodson to cut back, and with the edge clear, he has daylight for a first down and more, with the secondary left to bring him down.

As mentioned in the beginning of this article, however, Jones had his ups and downs, and these were his downs. He had some of his best work as a pass rusher after this carry, and we will be looking at some of the positives from this game tomorrow.

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • Jonas

    Good analysis on JJ! And thank you for the material for my own analysis of the rest.

    But on the second gif, I know he perhaps is man-handled by Cumberland, JJ still is setting the edge & takes the safest decision on this play!
    In the gap, JJ leads the RB due to the edge-setting, we have Polamalu, Gay and in the normal case one of the ILB that should be able to make the tackle.

    Therefore it is not important on this play whether Jones is handled or not, as he still forces the RB to the inside. That’s my opinion, do sb agree?

  • Jonas

    But sure, if he tackles the back behind the LOS it would be a big play. But that’s nothing we can expect from a rookie OLB

  • HarryBackside

    We’ll see if this carries over to the NFL, but from watching JJ at Georgia, he seems to learn from his mistakes very quickly. He’ll get a handle on how to deal with the play fakes.

  • TJimmy

    hmm are you certain about Jones’ specific assignments?

  • Virdin Barzey

    Agreed. Jones looked awful in this game except for the pressure he put in the end that cause the INT. He took a step back this game. He has the tools but he’s got to play smarter. You need more than talent to be great in this league.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    That was my first thought on the 2nd GIF as well is that he was setting the edge.He probably could have done a better job of not allowing Cumberland to push him farther out of the play but I agree with you.

  • steeltown

    Ha! Yea he’s alittle too quick for his own good. He REALLY needs to hold that edge better against a Team with a mobile QB

  • Douglas Andrews

    I can live with the up and downs of JJ. Hopefully he’ll learn not to overcommit so much and also when to throttle down diagnose and make a play. Overall i’m giving him a few more games this is still on the job training for him even though he played the position at UGA.

  • cencalsteeler

    He reminds me of Shamarko on the return game. First one there, but doesn’t “break down” and his momentum takes him past the play.

  • dennisdoubleday

    He had a concussion, we now know.

  • dgh57

    I agree, and think the coaches will sit down with him in the film room and help point out the things he did wrong in this game.

  • Shea Fahr

    At some point, he got a concussion in this game. Perhaps that had a bit to do with his play as well. Rookie + Concussion = Blow the line play

  • Callentown

    For all of those who are already suggesting that Jarvis Jones is a bust, recall that it took Troy a couple of years in this defense before he began to look good and James Harrison was cut a few times before he finally reached the level of a Pro Bowler.

    Give the guy a chance! He’s playing in year one, that’s a good sign!

  • Steve

    Jarvis needs to turn the play up. In gifs 1, 2 and 3 they get outside Jones and turn the corner. He is too close to the line of scrimmage and needs to take a deeper approach to make a few plays.

  • Steve

    Good point and true.

  • ATL96STEELER

    Growing pains of playing a rookie…I’m sure he’s seen this film as well and will hopefully be making the adjustments.

  • AndyR34

    I don’t really consider it a good sign…I think this many rookies playing significant snaps is a sign of the deterioration of the defense…not the excellence of the rookies.

  • Rob

    My watching the video did not show him setting the edge but being moved off the edge. Had he stopped after a short up field move he would have forced the back to run very deep to get outside or run inside through a smaller easier to fill hole. Had he been James Harrison he would have done that and collapsed the hole on the back as he was going through it.

    Jones is not Harrison by any stretch and I actually have to agree with the article. He may have been trying to set the edge but he got moved off of it. He did however keep his feet. He will likely get better as he becomes more familiar with his assignments and positioning on the field, he is a rookie and there are times it shows, that is to be expected.

  • PA2AK

    Who the flying fuuuuu thinks he’s a bust?!

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I did say in my comment that he didn’t do a good job of setting the edge but I agree with Jonas that other are suppose to come in and make that tackle.