For now, Pittsburgh Steelers rookie linebacker Jarvis Jones has lost the starting right outside linebacker job back to Jason Worilds as he was officially demoted on the depth chart on Tuesday. Jones play Sunday in the loss to the Oakland Raiders was the reason for the demotion and in reality, you can boil it down to just two plays.
With 4:08 left to go in the first quarter, Jones is left one-on-one with running back Darren McFadden. Initially, Jones squares up on McFadden and even jolts him back, but instead of staying outside of McFadden, he peeks inside of the Raiders running back, who effectively walls him off from the outside. This in turn gives quarterback Terrelle Pryor an escape route and while Jones does do a great job of chasing, it doesn’t prevent him from getting an earful from linebackers coach Keith Butler on the Steelers sideline.
While the regular television camera makes this play look a little worse than what it actually was, the fact that Jones couldn’t easily keep contain against a running back is a little concerning.
On the very next play from scrimmage, Jones fails to drop into coverage on Raiders tight end Michael Rivera. Luckily, Pryor threw low and the pass was incomplete.
After being pulled for one play, Jones reentered the game on third down and while he gets a free run at Pryor because the left tackle forgot the snap count, he gets juked by Pryor, who luckily makes a poor decision and throws an interception.
The play that really appeared to get Jones in the dog house took place with 6:56 left in the first half. The Raiders ran the read-option again and this time Jones gets baited into crashing inside and is subsequently turned by the tight end, thus giving up outside containment. To his credit once again, Jones doesn’t give up on the play and he eventually makes the tackle.
While Jones is still going through some growing pains, he will certainly learn from these two plays. While he may have been demoted, it’s temporary and I suspect he will still be given snaps Sunday against the New England Patriots. After all, it’s not like Worilds is the future and like Jones, he hasn’t set the world on fire this season once again.