Jarvis Jones Talks Youth And Speed On Defense

NFL Network reporter Aditi Kinkhabwala got a chance to catch up with Pittsburgh Steelers second-year outside linebacker Jarvis Jones following practice at OTAs yesterday, and the former first-round pick had plenty to say.

Kinkhabwala relayed that general manager Kevin Colbert was expecting the real jump this season to come from the 2013 draft class, and not the most recent class. This has always been the company policy, so the statement itself isn’t surprising.

But he was asked if it adds any extra pressure as he heads into his second season, and first as a sure starter, to which he responded in the negative. He explained:

“We’re a year older. We know what to expect. We know what this organization is about, and that’s about going out there and winning and bringing Super Bowls back. That’s the mentality that we have. That is the mentality we’re going to come to work with every day and walk around with”.

Part of that process is building chemistry as everybody learns the defense, and he talked about how committed everybody is to getting this defense to come together this year:

Every opportunity we get to make our team, and ourselves individually, better, we’re going to do it. This offseason has been great. Guys have been here, guys have been working. I mean you can see it out here. During OTAs and stuff like that, just camaraderie. The units that we have out there together, man, it’s unbelievable.

He feels as though he’s a bigger part of that now in his second season, having a better understanding of the defense and having to think less than he did on the field when he was a rookie. But that’s not the only benefit of being in his second year: he gets less of a hard time from the veterans.

“It’s a little bit lighter”, he said about the treatment he’s gotten this year. “I think the rookie class is getting that right now. But they still haven’t let us off the hook. They tell us we’ve got three more games before we aren’t rookies any more”.

But otherwise, he said, “it’s been great. We understand what’s going on, so we’re able to move around a whole lot faster, as far as the football and everything, watching film, in the weight room, all that stuff. It’s been great”.

One of those rookies this season is fellow first-round linebacker Ryan Shazier, and Jones was asked what advice he gave the rookie about handling his first season, saying that he told him to stay in Lawrence Timmons’ ear:

He’s just got to keep working. He’s a level-headed guy. He follows 94 around everywhere. I told him the first day “whatever you do, just make sure you don’t lose 94”, and since that day he’s been right behind him. He’s been great. He’s been out there making plays, understanding the defense, understanding the football on the mental side, weight room, locker room, everybody loves him. He’s a great guy, he loves football, and the sky’s the ceiling for him.

Shazier’s greatest asset is of course his speed, and installing him into the starting lineup on defense has certainly injected a much needed dose of quickness, in comparison what we saw from the Steelers last season. But it’s not just Shazier contributing to the increase in the overall team speed on defense, and Jones believes that that added speed is going to make a big difference this season:

It makes a whole lot [of difference]…after every ball you see six or seven, probably more, guys standing around the ball no matter where it’s at. If it’s a deep ball, we’re running. You see linemen down the field. Which is good—which means we can cover the field from side to side, deep to wherever they put it at, guys flying to the ball. Which is going to make us a whole lot better, and hopefully create more turnovers.

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

    Love hearing this. Exciting to hear this great stuff for the future of the Steelers both on offense and defense. Going deep into the playoffs would be a long shot for this year and injuries and luck can always make that win total swing by 4 or five games, but by 2015 they should be competing for championships for many years to come. A hard hitting, swarming D! Now if the league can just stop fining the Steelers then they will be able to return to the Steelers of old.

  • dkoy85

    Like shawn said a little bit ago on the McLendon article, this team really seems to be buying into the TEAM first attitude. Building camaraderie this early with these new young guys is great. Once they start to win together and fight together, their bonds will only strengthen, and their accountability will HAVE to be proven on a daily basis- as Tomlin says “the standard is the standard” and I think we’ll see this hold true the more the units bond.

    I’m also excited to see how this team attacks the ball. It should be a whole new defense, with a lot of speed and it will be brand new for the AFC North!

  • Jacque Strappe

    Can we kick it off yet? Jeez, I’m ready for some football.

  • treeher

    Please. Lord, keep these guys healthy and I think more SBs are in our future.

  • cencalsteeler

    Feel good article!!

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    I agree that 2015 will probably be a much better year for this defense that 2014. We have a lot of young inexperienced players still. Think of how much better Shamarko, Jarvis, Stephon, Shazier, will be with another year of experience.

    Hopefully our offense will be able to control the ball a little better this year and take the pressure off our young D. I’m expecting a solid running game with Bell/Blount pounding it behind Pouncey/DeCastro/Foster. I’m expecting the play action pass to be a lot stronger behind that run. And I’m actually expecting some splash plays after the catch from Brown/Wheaton/Bryant/Archer. If Ben can just get them the ball anklet them run we should be okay.

  • Johnny Loose

    Sounds good! Just keep following 94!! I’m getting excited about seeing these guys play!!

  • Lewis

    Anyone else think Jarvis looks fat now?

  • Steelers@2010

    Anything can happen from year to year; I’m not going to rule out these guys getting to the SuperBowl this year, but we all know the odds are against it. However, I think this team will improve this year. I’m going to be optimistic and say 10-6 (Wild Card).