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Keith Butler Talks Jarvis Jones’ Mental Development In Year Two


Pittsburgh Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler was on with David Todd last week prior to the team’s first preseason game against the New York Giants, during which he went up and down his unit. But one of the main focuses of the discussion was, unsurprisingly, second-year outside linebacker Jarvis Jones, who will be one of the main focuses of the defense this season.

Butler was asked about his troubles to get to the quarterback during his rookie year, in which he only managed to register one sack, which came against a running back in pass protection and a rookie quarterback.

As he’s talked about before during this offseason, Butler reiterated that Jones struggled to get adjusted to his assignments a year ago, occasionally being out of place or not knowing what he was supposed to do. But he sees progress in Jones in year two.

He had never been in a framework where it was as disciplined as we’ve required of him. He’s still learning the defense and learning where everybody else is at. He’ll tend to learn when he can come underneath a block or when he can go over the top of a block when he’s rushing the passer as he learns the defense. There’s some opportunity for him to go either way. He didn’t exactly know what he was doing last year, but this year he’s got a better understanding.

Of course, following the interview, Jones went on to register a sack during the Steelers’ defeat against the Giants, the only sack the team registered for the game. He was able to beat the left tackle with a heavy hand to the inside and raced into the backfield, roping up Eli Manning by the feet.

As has long been the case for Butler’s outside linebackers, however, rushing the quarterback is just a small part of their assignments. The edge rushers in this scheme frequently drop into coverage on passing downs around a quarter to a third of the time, and this is an area in which the rookie had some faults in year one.

Fortunately, Butler has seen progress there as well. It seems in his answer that he suggests he was anticipating that Jones would be better prepared for pass coverage assignments coming out of college based on his tape, but found him to be “really undisciplined” when the Steelers finally got him on the field.

He’s taken steps forward in [coverage]. We felt like he was more of a linebacker when he was at Georgia and he had some experience in pass drops, but really, he was really undisciplined when he got here. There’s a lot of things that we’re going to ask him to do that he’s going to have to be a cog in the wheel in terms of our defense. If he doesn’t do what he’s supposed to do, a lot of the defense is going to break down, so he’s got to understand what his role is.

Much of what Butler had to say about Jones’ progress in year two was on display last week in the preseason opener. The right outside linebacker had a nice opening game overall against a team that already had some reps under their belt, but that must only be the beginning.

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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.
  • Virdin Barzey

    That’s a lot of pressure. As I said before, Jones maturation in this defense is pivotal. The training wheels are off and as I suspected, Butler made it clear that if Jones messes up the defense is in trouble.

    What I like from Jones vs the Giants was the use of his hands and bull rush using his strength. Undisciplined is the word I was trying to describe Jones last year. Butler clearly knows his guys.

  • dgh57

    Hopefully we can get a better push from the DL with the addition of Tuitt and C. Thomas and in time McCullers to give Jones the help any OLB would need to do his job better.

  • Grandmaster Fistage

    “Pittsburgh Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler was on with David Todd last week prior to the team’s first preseason game against the New York Giants, during which he went up and down his unit.”

  • charles

    Jones should get more credit than 1 sack last year. His pressure on the Jets qb and 2 other pressures resulted in 2 ints and 1 Ike clanger. Still, our moribound qb pressure is the limit to this team. Will anybody else out there ever relate 3-4 D to winning the line of scrimmage, or inability of 3 men to dislocate 5. The 3-4 CANNOT win the LoS. They can trick the Oline to get to the qb but zone blocking has removed most of that threat. The Steelers have the talent on the Dline now: Heyward, Maclendon, McKullers, and Doitt. The 3-4 is a product of when we didn’t. And EVERYONE already understands the 4-3 which reduces the learning curve from college to pro which gives us much greater draft class production which is an essential with free agency.

  • wdhammer

    Right now he’s not looking good .We’ll see Sat if he can improve.Right now Jarvis is still lacking…

  • steeltown

    Another encouraging thing is he really has looked good in training camp this year. I read at yesterdays practice he had a near INT in one on one drills, also he showed well against the run in 11 on 11 and he also had a pass breakup.

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