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The Pessimist’s Take – Year Two For Jarvis Jones


By Matthew Marczi

For a team facing so much adversity in the past season and heading into the next with a litany of questions to address, it’s natural to consider the issues and how they can either go right or wrong, as well as how they will affect  the broader dynamics and future success of the team, both heading into this season and into the future.

Though not statistically true, it is technically true that every team enters the offseason with the potential to finish the year as the league champion or as the first team on the clock in the next draft.

Some teams have a wider realistic range than others, and I think the Pittsburgh Steelers are one of those teams. Think of them as Schrödinger’s franchise; in February, they are both future champions and future owners of the top draft pick.

In order to gain a better feel for not only the issues facing the team this year, but how those issues might play out, it’s useful to take the devil’s advocate approach. This is the pessimistic side of the coin.

Question: What kind of performance can be expected from Jarvis Jones in his second season?

After two straight back-to-back seasons of struggling to get pressure, the Steelers were desperate to bring in some pass-rushing ability after releasing James Harrison and watching LaMarr Woodley limp through the previous season and a half, while Jason Worilds failed to impress.

So it was that they nearly ran to the podium in order to draft Jarvis Jones with their first pick in the past draft. But unfortunately for them, it didn’t do much in terms of helping to bring pressure, as the rookie finished with just one sack, and 28 total pressures, in eight starts, 14 games, and 308 pass rushes.

The only starting outside linebacker that actually regularly rushes the passer who had a worse pass rushing productivity score than Jones’ 6.9 was the 6.2 number registered by Matt Shaunessy of the Arizona Cardinals.

Because he played outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme in college, many, even Jones, seemed to believe that he would have an easier time translating his skills to the professional level. Whether or not that was the case is difficult to say, but if it is, his rookie season would have looked awful rough if he had to transition from defensive end.

Jones has clear and obvious issues in the pass rushing game, and it’s certainly less clear and obvious that one offseason and a guy named Peezy is going to fix all that ails the disappointing pass rusher.

Worilds needed to get stronger after his rookie season, but it wasn’t until his fourth year that he finally looked formidable as a pass rusher. And even Worilds at least had a repertoire of counter maneuvers—most notably the spin move—regardless of whether or not they actually worked. Jones’ bag of tricks mainly features a moderate bull rush and a straight speed rush that lacks the requisite dip and bend to get beneath the blocker.

Jones was benched in the middle of the year because he lacked assignment discipline, which helped contribute to some big plays. Even when he was forced back into the lineup due to injury and began playing better, he was still making obvious mistakes, including in the season finale, which was otherwise his best game.

It may be asking too much to turn Jones into a legitimate, effective starter in just one offseason based on what we saw in 2013. For their sake, the Steelers should hope that Woodley’s calves and ankles stay in working order and that they can retain Worilds, who could be just the latest of an increasing number of young and talented players fleeing the organization in free agency thanks to the team’s salary cap issues.

The Optimist’s Take – Year Two For Jarvis Jones

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About Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • falconsaftey43

    Unfortunately I think I lean more to the pessimist’s take on Jones. I don’t have a lot of hope going into this season that he will become a pass rusher, I just don’t see it. I think he could be good to great playing inside as he seems to have good instincts, just not a threat coming off the edge. He wasn’t in college either, most his sacks were off of broken plays. Not many came within 4 or 5 seconds of the snap off a clean win.

  • steeltown

    The FO has to lockup Worilds at this point, they can no longer sit back and watch the young talent walk after their rookie contracts are up. That, is exactly how you don’t build a Team through the draft.

    I think Jones will be fine. He was a rookie, obviously his pass rush was subpar, but he did a lot of other nice things that are encouraging. He’ll only get stronger and play faster as the months and years roll on

  • falconsaftey43

    I went back and looked at Dave’s break down of all his sacks his senior year at Georgia. Of the 15 sacks (actually 14 cuz two were credited as half sacks) I counted 6 that were 3 seconds or under. According to PFF, the only QB to average over 3 seconds until throwing the ball was Pryor. The lowest average time it took to sack a QB was 3.36 seconds (which was Brady, indicating you either get him quickly or not at all.) The highest avg time to sack was 4.75 seconds which was Pryor because he held to ball more and would try to scramble. Jones averaged 4.36 sec per sack. I counted 4 of Jones’ sacks as actual wins where he lined up and had to beat a blocker to get to the QB. All 4 were outside speed rushes. I hope I’m wrong, but I just don’t think he has what it takes to be a consistent pass rusher

  • falconsaftey43

    30 rookies and 267 total players had more sacks than him. It’s not like he didn’t get a lot of playing time. He simply has to do MUCH better this year.

  • ATL96STEELER

    I agree with you in the pessimist mode…He wasn’t my 1st choice, but I liked JJ a lot in the draft.

    The mental mistakes didn’t bother me as much, but he looks way over matched vs LTs…he can get push sometimes, but he never disengages and they just seem to ride him on by the QB if he does get some push.

    We’ll have to see, but right now , he needs to develop another move on top of getting stronger…he’s good football player so I think he will figure it out, but at 1st glance he does look better suited to play ILB.

  • ATL96STEELER

    I think Worilds will get a decent offer, but I can’t imagine it will be the highest…retaining him I think in part will be depended on Worilds taking a bit of a hometown discount…I wouldn’t blame him if he wanted to max out (likely will be his last NFL contract), but I think he will be the most effective next year as a Steeler.

  • steeltown

    Im thinking along the lines of a Paul Kruger deal who also got a nice deal after only one stellar season of play. Somewhere around 5yrs $40MIL, obviously his ’14 salary would be cap friendly

  • falconsaftey43

    He has a lot of skills and seems to have good instincts and knows where the ball is going, just don’t see pass rush skills. Seems he would be a better fit inside or outside in a 4-3. We shall see.

  • SteelersDepot

    MUCH better.

  • Jefferson_St_Joe

    That’s crazy money. Kruger had a track record of several years of production. Worilds got beat out by Jones at the beginning of the year.

    Worilds will get a decent contract, but he doesn’t belong anywhere near the top paid linebackers in the league. Anything over 5 years $25M is way too much and I’m not sure I would go there.

  • steeltown

    Kruger had maybe 6sacks in 3yrs before his breakout season.. Worilds had 10sacks and far more tackles over that span before his breakout season. Trust me, he’s going to get $7-8MIL per
    The reason he was beat out by Jarvis is because Worilds struggles on the right side, he is a LOLB.. that much has been established

  • Jefferson_St_Joe

    You’re right about Kruger’s production, but at least he had started for 2 seasons.

    I stand by the numbers, though, If Worilds can get that kind of money, he should go get it. There will be plenty of linebackers available at reasonable prices until the Steelers can develop one.

  • AndyR34

    First Worilds did NOT get beat out by Jones..Jones was anointed and handed the starting job. I think Worilds will get closer to $8M per year than $5M. If not from us..from somebody.

  • falconsaftey43

    I can’t think of a single 3-4 OLB FA that could be brought in that’d have any sort of impact besides Worilds or Orakpo, both of whom will be getting $8M or more. There just aren’t a lot of these guys. Letting go of young talent is the mistake the Steelers have been making recently (see Lewis). It’s time to cut the old and sign the young, it’s really that simple. Worilds is worth it in my opinion.

  • Jefferson_St_Joe

    I can only endorse signing him at the right price. $8M/year makes him a top 10 outside linebacker. He’s not worth that & I doubt that he’ll get that. The market for free agents has been regressing due to the flat cap, save for a few exceptions each year. Maybe he is the one this year, but I don’t think so.

    The shame with losing Lewis was he did not break the bank with his contract, yet the Steelers still did not compete for him. That happened, in part, because they overpaid so many other guys like Woodley, Colon, Taylor, etc. Overpaying Worilds just keeps you in the same hole.

    I completely agree with cutting age and prioritizing the youth, but they have to be disciplined and pay appropriate salaries.

  • falconsaftey43

    I guess we just disagree on what kind of player Worilds is/will be. I think he is a difference making pass rusher who is only 26 and coming into his prime. I agree you have to be careful who you pay and how much because it can come back and bite you, but honestly the reason Woodley’s contract is a problem is the multiple restructures at created more guaranteed money, otherwise he’d be an easy cut. Taylor’s contract isn’t a major problem because his guaranteed portion is low and he could be reduced or cut. What the Steelers have to stop doing is restructuring contracts to push money into the future.

  • Jefferson_St_Joe

    The restructurings are a problem, but so is the total money, Woodley has been paid as a top 5 OLB and its the money that has gone out that ultimately are the problem. (They’ve paid him about $40M for about 15 sacks.)

  • bonairsfavoriteson

    I doubt it is going to take very long before people and especially the staff and front office realize they totally blew the pick on Jones. He is what he is, a tall, under weight, under strength , non skilled pass rusher and not much else, there is nothing Porter can do that will change it and if Jones does change, strength and weight, he will be pushing his late 20s to 30 years old, some pick, huh. Colbert should go back over the scouting reports for Jones and fire every scout that gave him a grade higher than 5th round.

  • Richie

    hi

  • CrazyTerry

    The thing with Jarvis that bothers me is he hasn’t even shown flashes of brilliance. You expect rookies to be inconsistent as they learn. He has actually been very consistent .. at being overmatched. I lost any respect for the SEC after seeing how this superstar in college has looked so awful in the NFL.

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