By Matthew Marczi
Yesterday, we highlighted some of the struggles that Pittsburgh Steelers rookie starting outside linebacker Jarvis Jones had while facing the New York Jets, which saw him being fooled on misdirections or missing tackles that led to big games. He looked more like a rookie at moments in this past game than he had in the first four.
In the aforementioned article, however, it was also written that Jones had some of his better moments of the season, and that was certainly the case. In particular, he had his most effective afternoon as a pass rusher thus far as a professional, with the climax of course being the quarterback hit that led to Lawrence Timmons’ game-clinching interception as the Jets approached the goal line.
On at least one occasion that I observed this past game, Dick LeBeau rushed Jones from an inside position (as he is wont to do with his outside linebackers on occasion). This is something that he had great success with in college, and it was no different here.
The Jets were facing third down on this play and, in the dime package, the Steelers had a mixed front, with LaMarr Woodley, Brett Keisel, and Cameron Heyward serving as standing linemen with Jones and Timmons behind. Heyward is over the center, and Jones is shaded just off his right shoulder, but off the snap, he rushes the B Gap between Austin Howard and Willie Colon. Colon is too slow in picking him up, though I would not put too much blame on the former Steeler—the suddenness of Jones’ rush was impressive. The end result is a pressure that forces a throwaway after Jones manages to get a hand on Geno Smith.
Jones really did not have too much success rushing the passer again until late in the game, however, but he is learning and getting better. For example, he showed off a key skill on the play before his quarterback hit that resulted in the turnover.
Once again in the dime, this time the Steelers have Jones rush from a more traditional position. He is lined up against D’Brickashaw Ferguson at left tackle—an underrated player, in my estimation—and for the first time I can recall, Jones shows signs of a bull rush and successfully walks Ferguson back into the quarterback. In fact, he makes Smith trip over Woodley, who had fallen to the ground in his rush attempt on the opposite side against Howard.
It was just the next play, of course, when Jones made the biggest impact play of his young career. A play after walking their left tackle back into the quarterback, the Jets left Jones one on one with running back Mike Goodson. Jones gave him a good pop and pushed him aside, then laid into Smith, knocking him to the ground. I would say that Jones won this round of the backs on backers drill.