While Pittsburgh Steelers rookie linebacker Jarvis Jones has shown some signs of development over the course of the season, but there's no denying that he's been pretty much invisible when it comes to rushing the passer. According to Pro Football Focus, Jones has registered one sack, two hits and 19 hurries in 242 pass rushing opportunities and that translates into a dismal 7.1 pass rushing productivity number.
Jones, however, said on Wednesday that he knows he has a lot to work on moving forward and that going against Miami Dolphins left tackle Bryant McKinnie this past Sunday really was an experience.
"No. 78, that dude was huge, man," Jones said, according to the official team website. "He doesn’t move a lot, but when he does you’re like, 'Wow, that’s Shaq playing football.' He was huge. And he was heavy, too.
"So things like that, the hands, building strength, speed, weight, all of that stuff will count. Football is a game of inches so you want to be as big, as strong, and as fast as you can. That’s something I really need to focus on in the offseason and over the course of these next three games and continue to get better."
Ever since Jones was drafted, it was obvious that he would need to get bigger and stronger. His speed rush around the end usually takes him too far up the field and only a few times have we seen him effectively bull rush and put his opponent on skates.
The fact that Jones has managed to log over 500 snaps of playing time with three games remaining is amazing in itself as Steelers defensive rookies are lucky to see half that many snaps due to the complexities of the defense. The fact that Jones played in a 3-4 at Georgia certainly helped him with the learning curve, but still, nobody should have expected him to be the defensive rookie of the year. If you did, you should have known better.
With three games remaining in the season, Jones is back to being the third outside linebacker and that likely will result in him playing a third of the snaps the rest of the way baring any injuries. There's also a chance that he will occasionally be on the field along with both LaMarr Woodley and Jason Worilds in certain situations just as he was prior to the former going down with his calf injury.
By the time next season rolls around, Jones will hopefully be much stronger and be able to offer more as a pass rusher. While many keep speculating that he will move inside permanently, I just don't see that happening. He was drafted to be a 3-4 outside linebacker and that is what he must work on becoming during the offseason. Thanks to the playing time he received during his rookie season, he now knows what it takes to play the position.