Jarvis Jones Can Improve His Speed By Slowing Down The Game

Many observers, both fans and outsiders of the Pittsburgh Steelers, have raised questions about the speed—or the seeming lack of speed—of the team’s 2013 first-round draft pick, outside linebacker Jarvis Jones.

After all, he turned in a 40-time at his Pro Day of nearly five seconds, which would be a suitable time for an offensive lineman, but not a linebacker.

Other workout numbers, such as his 7.46 3-cone drill time, also seem to indicate that Jones isn’t as athletic and quick a player as the Steelers would like. Whether or not the game tape from last season is proof of that remains to be seen.

As with many rookies, Jones reportedly found himself over his head for a good portion of the season, which no doubt contributed to some lagging play. With the Steelers in particular, it’s rare for defensive rookies to be asked to start due to the complexities involved in learning the defensive schemes and their role within it.

That is partly why Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler is encouraged about what the former first-rounder will be able to offer in his second year in the league.

During the draft, Butler got the opportunity to speak to the gathered media after the Steelers selected inside linebacker Jordan Zumwalt in the sixth round. Because it was their first opportunity to speak to him since the end of the season, the reporters had Butler field questions on a variety of topics, including Jones.

Asked of his thoughts on the progression of Jones, Butler revisited the past season. “He pretty much didn’t know where to line up last year”, he revealed. Touching on the ever-present topic of speed, Butler added, “if somebody wasn’t there to help him and tell him what he was supposed to be doing he was a half a second slow.

“The great thing about playing in this defense is that it is tough to play in your first year, but the second year everything slows down. If it slows down for him mentally it will be a lot easier for him. Hopefully that will be the case”.

That may be great for Jones, though not so much for Ryan Shazier and Stephon Tuitt, the Steelers’ top two draft choices, both of whom figure to have an opportunity to compete for a starting job on the defense.

More on the ‘great’ front for Jones, Butler revealed “he’s put in a lot of work” in the offseason, “trying to get stronger”. Getting stronger during the offseason was certainly a primary concern for many observers, and something Jones himself noted during the season.

Still, Butler was among those who believes that there was a “progression from the beginning of the season to the later part of the season”, during which Jones “improved quite a bit”. The season finale was probably his best game of the year. If he can play faster while knowing where he needs to be and not thinking as much, perhaps we’ll start to see this season the player the Steelers believed they drafted in the first place.

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

    I still believe Jarvis Jones is going to kill it. Naysayers, please step forward now.

  • John C

    Well….finally someone has come out and confirmed that Jones is indeed working on getting stronger this offseason. This has been my biggest worry. You have to figure that a lot of his short comings last year had to do with learning and understanding the D. The rest had to do with his strength. I think he will be fine this season.

  • Paddy

    Lets hope he put on 25 pounds of muscle and improved his quickness. I think that is the case because the team did nothing in the draft at OLB. If Worilds leaves after this season and Jones doesn’t step up the team will be in deep ….

  • Steelers12328882

    They’ll franchise Worilds if he has a good season and they can’t resign him.

  • Steelers12328882

    He better have a pair of guns on him this year.

  • srdan

    Why do I feel like we are playing “Where is Waldo” with Jones. Someone snap a picture of htis guy. Where is TMZ when you need them!!

  • steeltown

    25lbs? That’s not happening in a single offseason, he’d be 270lbs. I think 5-10lbs would be ideal and more reasonable

  • steeltown

    There’s all sorts of offseason gym/workout photos on the Steelers website

  • srdan

    Did he bulk up in your best guesstimate?

  • srdan

    If he gained 10% of his body mass in a year he would get hurt for sure. We just went through this with another OLB. Except he gained it in cheeseburgers and soda. But then again, the Raiders said that is OK.

  • shawn

    well i can assure u he didnt put on that much … i would be very happy if he put on 10 pounds of solid mass and increased his strength accordingly !

  • shawn

    This article is a little disappointing …. acknowledging that he didnt know where to line up is a little staggering at this point … i didnt know it was that bad, lets hope he was just exaggerating a little for effect !

  • shawn

    at this point i think it is 50/50 at best .. i am hopeful but personally i have my doubts … a lot better chance he ends up in the Ziggy realm … but lets hope thats not the case !

  • Andrew

    He’s gotten a little bigger. I’ve got a “source” who lives nearby him. Everyone keep calm on Jarvis, he’s going to be alright.

  • ApexSteel

    I hope so because Jarvis was awful at times last year. I mean I know he was a rookie, but coming from a 3-4 defense there’s some things he should’ve known. Last year he made it seem like he had no idea what contain was and he was indecisive on a regular basis. He needs to understand he’s not the star anymore they don’t need him to make every play. Just do his job.

  • steeltown

    It’s hard to tell to be honest, but he’s been working and that’s all that we can expect

  • treeher

    I think our new LB assistant is going to have a huge impact.

  • Steel PAul

    Okay, prepare to pounce on me for this post!

    I know Shazier was the #1 pick, but with Spence having 2 yrs experience in some form of practice and film study, doesn’t it make sense that he would be ahead of Shaz with his understanding of the defense?

    I just watched side-by-side highlight reels and some games of both players and, we HAVE to find a way to get them both on the field. We’ve forgotten a bit about Spence for the obvious reasons, but if he’s healthy, wouldn’t he be ahead of Shaz in progress??

  • Garrett Hunt

    Size doesn’t mean strength! I care about him getting stronger, not necessarily bigger.

  • Jason Brant

    Absolutely. He often looked as good, sometimes better than, Worilds did on the right side. And he was a rookie.

    It can be hard to be patient for a player to develop, but sometimes we need to sit back and relax.

  • srdan

    I do cross training and get your point. But if you don’t think there is a correlation you are fooled. At this time that is the best we can do.

  • joed32

    Mentally maybe. physically no.

  • Jason Brant

    The guy hasn’t played a down of football in two years. If he can make the 53 man roster, it’ll be an unbelievable accomplishment.

    Expecting him to start probably isn’t being realistic.

  • Kurt Williams

    thank you…we don’t need a body builder!

  • Eric MacLaurin

    As unimpressive as Jones was you can’t grade him yet because few comps had even played yet. As for Shazier, he can be a half second slow and still be faster than Jones so. :)

  • Eric MacLaurin

    You’re ignoring the pedigrees.

    Spence was a third round not quite fast enough fast inside LB who was drafted after we missed on another guy or two while Shazier was the 15th pick in a deep draft class.

    That said I do think spence will play if healthy I just don’t think he will start over Shazier.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    I know!

    It’s like Spence.

    How do these guys disappear from public view for so long?

  • Eric MacLaurin

    More size in motion means more momentum which can be used as strength even though it isn’t.

    More size also means more padding on your bones.

    They are different but both are valuable in football and the bulk is all you can really define without testing.

  • Steel PAul

    I’m curious. Do we KNOW that? I sure don’t.

  • Steel PAul

    Totally agree. Just saying, if he’s physically okay and gets in playing shape between now and August, isn’t he more prepared to be in the “too hard for rookies to start” defense than Shaz?

  • Steel PAul

    I hear ya, but not ignoring as much as looking at where they both are today. Clearly if they were both coming out right now, it’s not a conversation.

  • cencalsteeler

    While I agree JJ needs to add some strength to his frame, what’s more important is adding some dimension to his pass rush. I did see some spin moves toward the end of the season, but he needs to stop getting pushed out of the play. He does seem to have a knack for always being in the right place at the right time, let’s just hope he adds some more tricks to his bag.

  • Mike Frantz

    I’m hopeful…

    Jones’ best attribute has always been his football instincts. I’m hoping that as the game slows for him and his assignments become more second nature, his instincts and innate feel for the game will start to come to the forefront. We shall see.

  • dgh57

    That’s what Joey Porter was brought in for was to add to his bag of tricks.

  • joed32

    Nope we don’t know but there is a good chance a man who has been playing football would have a physical edge over a man who hasn’t played a game since 2011. There is bound to be some rust.

  • bonairsfavoriteson

    How does a guy , if he has a desire to play in the nfl, attend 2 schools, get a lot of coaching over 4-6 years, come out of school , 24 years old, and not have a clue, then think he will remake everything in one off season, come back at 25 pounds more, a year older and he is going to be quicker and faster at 255 than he was at 230 and now he is 25 year old and half way through his first contract.??

  • dgh57

    I agree!

  • Garrett Hunt

    Well said. Just don’t want him to get any slower.

  • Garrett Hunt

    Not necessarily a large correlation for someone with an already muscular body. I wouldn’t expect him to loose any size but at the same time it is possible to have large strength gains with minimal size gains thus not leading to negative effects on speed or quickness. Just look at Dri Archer being one of the stronger guys at his position at the combine.

  • srdan

    We don’t know for sure, but tomlin, butler and Colbert chose a 1st rd ILB. That should be a hint to all of us on what they think of the rest of teh roster not wearing 94 as a starting ILB.

  • dgh57

    I think when Spence gets put on the field for the first time he’s going to say to himself all this is easier said than done when it comes to head knowledge and physically getting out there on the field of play. I can’t think of a better teaching tool than playing time.

  • Slab

    Because that’s the same basic path taken by every NFL player. The jump from college to the NFL is huge no matter how good you were in college. Payton Manning lost more games his first year in the NFL than he did in his whole college career. the next year he went 13-3. Polamalu had zero starts and 38 total tackles his first year and then had 96 tackles his second year and has started every game he’s played since that first year. Lawrence Timmons- 13 total tackles year one and didn’t really start full time until year 3. Give players a chance.

  • Jason Brant

    You are correct. Players don’t improve from year one to year two.

    Everyone stays the same from their rookie year.

  • ApexSteel

    Mental reps and physical reps are two entirely different things.

  • ApexSteel

    Ok help me out. When did Jarvis put on 25 pounds in an off season and what makes you think he can’t improve his second year? I’m lost

  • charles

    Maybe this is odd, but it seems like the ILB should bulk up and the OLB should be mean and lean ie speed. That would make it seem that Shazier might compete with Jones for a roster spot and not with Williams. Add Spence being healthy and the linebacker corp would be in great shape and we would have good speed on the sub packages

  • Steelers58

    Jason be patient. We r rebuilding this defense the right way. We have lost seven starters since 2011. So it is time to rebuild. And we r doing it the right way. Don’t get down on any players. Give them a chance to learn and develop. It may take two yrs , but by them we will be dominating defensively. Think long term and not quick fix
    Everything will work out in the end

  • Jason Brant

    Um, what? I was defending Jarvis Jones AND saying that we need to be patient. Not sure what you’re talking about.

  • steeltown

    I think if Shazier struggles to pick up the playbook initially, then yes Spence could possibly be the subpackage nickel LB

  • RedCarpetDefense

    Yeah no kidding…here’s some help for Jarvis when you break the huddle start making your way to the left or right of the formation.

  • Shawn S.

    Dave, please re-post this article midway through this season, to remind us to be patient with Shazier and Tuitt, who will likely be tentative (and look slow) as they learn the D. Just like Jones.

  • j m

    This is absurd.

    Did anyone watch the final game against Clevleand? Jarvis was one of our top 2 defenders on the field. He was chasing, and catching, WRs and RBs all over the field.

    Jarvis Jones will be fine.

  • Kevin Gobleck

    Uhhh, i agree with you J. Jones will be fine, but that last game, it was against Cleveland, remember that lol

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    I will line up as naysyer number two. I’m not saying Jarvis sucks by any means. But just don’t see him ever having the strength, speed, technique, to beat NFL LT’s consistently.

    I “hope” for the best. I think the fact that we now have two 1st round talent DE’s is going to make it easier for him. But I’m also 50/50 at best that he turns out to be a dominate pass rusher.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    And not just strength but flexibility. That’s what made Harrison so effective. He got LOW around the edge. I need to see Jarvis dip/turn/rip before i”ll become optimistic about him.

  • Matthew Marczi

    To be fair, that was one game against a bad team.

  • Matthew Marczi

    If you’re referring to the title of the article, I was alluding to the fact that he should be reacting more than thinking (e.g. hesitating) in year two. I wasn’t implying that he would literally be faster. Although he did say that he wanted to get faster too.

  • PA2AK

    I actually view this positively. There was no doubt that he was underwhelming last year. Everyone speculated (including me) that it was mainly lack of physical ability. He clearly did not grasp the defense mentally. That hurdle seems to be easier to overcome with experience and coaching than a physical deficiency.

  • Slab

    But all the defenders played against the same bad team, right? Not like Jones was the only guy playing against a bad team that day.

  • Ike Evans

    Just follow him om instagram

  • Ike Evans

    Right

  • Ike Evans

    They will….depends on how they both play in camp….sub packages we can start 1 and utilize the other as the dime linebacker (like troy and terrance garvin last year) i think thatll be spence but u never know…sean could beat vw and shaz out…we will see

  • george

    I think the Raider coach said Woodley needed to ADD weight. Whoeee Burger King here we go!

  • Milliken Steeler

    LOL That is a great point actually.

  • Milliken Steeler

    Come out of school and not have a clue? Where did you get that from? How do you not think he wont be quicker if he isn’t having to think about the play as much Bon?

    Look at his forty times and compair them to Ray Lewis and some others. The forty time is being way over rated for the area in which Jarvis plays in most of the time. If he was running that time and was a CB for us, then I would be very concerned. lol

  • cencalsteeler

    Simple. Now, it’s a paying job and it’s something asked of them by their bosses. In college, well,…. it’s simply playing a sport while going to school.

  • Milliken Steeler

    25 punds Paddy? lol I don’t think we want a 270lb OLB trying to chase down QB’s. I think a strong 255 and he should be good. I wouldnt be surprised if he weighs close to that now.

  • Milliken Steeler

    I think he is very capable of getting 8-10 sacks a year and with his height and ability to swat passes and be around the football, I think he will be a good player for us.

  • dave

    I think we do know for sure that Shazier is way ahead physically – 4.37 40 vs.4.66 40, 2 inches taller, etc…and that was before Spence blew out his knee – who knows if he still has the same burst he showed as a rookie pre-injury?
    Mentally, I’m sure Spence is ahead, he’s been in the system for 2 years.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Granted, and I’ve said a number of times that Jones finished the season with a strong game.

  • Weiss Chad

    How is going into your second year halfway through his contract?Even if steelers don’t excercise the fifth year option he is still only 1/4 of the way through his rookie contract.Give the guy a chance.Not have a clue??It don’t matter if he played te nuts of college,the steelers defense is complex and takes time bro.Just ask every defensive player on the team not named jones that pretty much didn’t start in steelers defense their rookie year due to this fact.His biggest problem in my eyes is strength . I think ten more pounds would probably be sufficient .

  • Weiss Chad

    I get what you are saying..He’s a bust just like Jason worilds and Cameron heyward .

  • shawn

    lol funny !

  • shawn

    hope so … but i can’t believe the def to be that complicated … i mean c’mon there are only so many formations they can come out with

  • Steel PAul

    So this basically sums up my first point. Thank you dave. I was taking it to the next step asking if it was possible that Spence then starts ahead of Shaz because of this. Thx

  • Hp B

    A good point but Archer is a freak of nature like Walter Payton. In a good way. Strength.
    How many people are there who weigh 175 lbs and can bench 225 20 times!!? Absolutely incredible.
    I believe Charlie Joiner was like this also, way back when.

    I think Archer will be outstanding! What a pick!

  • http://batman-news.com MC

    This kid needs to get down to Bommarito where Brown and Bell train. It will definitely help his speed and strength.