Pittsburgh Steelers rookie linebacker Jarvis Jones didn’t terrorize opposing quarterbacks like many hoped that he would during his first season in the NFL, but he gained valuable playing time that will hopefully help him progress to the next level in 2014. Following what was arguably his best game of the season Sunday in the win over the Cleveland Browns, Jones said he knows what he needs to work on during the offseason and that mostly includes him adding more muscle.
“I need to get stronger, I need to get faster, I need to become a better student of the game, said Jones, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. There’s a lot of stuff I need to work on.”
Jones, who officially registered one sack and 40 combined tackles in 646 snaps played in 2013, led the team in tackles with eight in the season finale. Over the course of the season, the Georgia product appeared to get more comfortable in the Steelers defense as he was reacting more than he was thinking. Still, Jones inability to bullrush effectively on the right side was very noticeable and that is where additional strength will help him moving forward.
The Steelers are notorious for not giving rookie defensive players a lot of playing time, but thanks to a slow start by Jason Worilds on the right side in the season opener, Jones was thrust into the starting right outside linebacker in Week 2 and he went on to start eight games in total.
According to Pro Football Focus, Jones had just two quarterback hits and 25 hurries in his 308 pass rushing opportunities as a rookie and that equates to a lowly 6.9 pass rushing productivity number. While his play against the run was the better part of his game, his 5.1 run stop percentage and 12.5 tackling efficiency number will be expected to improve in 2014.
“You have to work hard for it. You just have to continue to chop wood and that’s what I’ll continue to do,” Jones told the paper.
I, for one, can’t wait to see how often Jones swung the ax during the offseason when the team convenes for their OTA practices in May. It should be noticeable.