Jarvis Jones Makes Splash Plays In Rare Playing Opportunity

With three players who had to be inactive due to injuries, the Pittsburgh Steelers only had four slots available to them on the inactive list to rest some of their key players in the meaningless regular-season finale. So James Harrison dressed for the game against the Browns. But he did not play.

The 38-year-old was a spectator for the finale after he spent the past several weeks missing just one snap, and the primary right outside linebacker replacing him yesterday was none other than the man he leapfrogged and then sent to the bench, Jarvis Jones, the Steelers’ first-round draft pick in 2013, who may have just played his last snaps in a Steelers uniform.

After plenty of back and forth over the course of the season, Jones last week found himself for the first time in his career on the inactive list as a healthy scratch, a week after he didn’t even see the field on special teams. But with Harrison not playing, the coaching staff gave him the opportunity to log time, playing the majority of the game, and he actually wound up having a pretty impactful game—relative to the competition.

In case you were wondering, yes, Jones was working against Joe Thomas on the sack, which came late in the fourth quarter. The outside linebacker ran a deep arc against the All-Pro before working inside as Robert Griffin III started to feel pressure and begin to flush out of the pocket. Jones was able to come off the block and wrestle the quarterback down for just his first sack of the season for a loss of four yards.

Jones doesn’t exactly have the most impressive body of work over the course of his four-year career as a pass rusher. He has played in 50 games, and yesterday’s was just the sixth sack of his career, but it may have been his best, short of the sack on Cam Newton in the third game of the 2014 season.

Aside from the sack—which proved to be spoiled, as the Browns rattled off a long run on the next play and then scored the game-tying touchdown soon after—Jones also recorded three solo tackles, batted a pass down at the line, and forced a fumble in the red zone that the Steelers recovered. It was the most impactful game that he has had in his career.

That forced fumble game on the Browns’ next drive, which started at midfield. After a 43-yard play put the Browns on the five with first and goal, Isaiah Crowell tried to run up the middle when Jones knocked the ball loose with about a minute left to play. So you can blame Jones for the overtime, but also thank him for the chance to win.

Not that that likely changes his status for next year. The Steelers declined his fifth-year option and benched him for a reason. Come next week, he may be back in street clothes on the sideline, and could find himself in a jersey of another color come March.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

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

  • colingrant

    Too little too late, but Jarvis can play in the NFL, just not with the Steelers. I would bring him back at a low salary, but it’s likely someone will pay him slightly more, plus I would think he’d want to go somewhere to rehabilitate his career. All in all, he’s been accountable, professional and gave maximum effort. First round pick with 4th or 5th round results.

    Steelers needed more, but he gave all he had to give and it just wasn’t enough. Microscope now shifts to Dupree who’s a greatly superior athlete, but who’s pass rushing skills are nill, minus a burst to the quarterback when flushed out of pocket.

    This alone will get him 3-4 sacks per year, however, that’s more less cleaning up havoc caused by another front 7 defender. He’s not a natural pass rusher, so, he’ll have to manufacture learned techniques from others and then execute to perfection.

    Jason Worilds wasn’t effective as a pass rusher until his 3rd or 4th year in the league, so Dupree has time from that perspective, but we need it next year, so much like Jarvis Jones, he’s not afforded time, like linebacker draft picks from yesteryear.

  • pittfan

    Too little too late

    say no more…

  • Nolrog

    It’s hard for me to get excited about JJ’s performance yesterday. He was going against the worst offensive line in football, having given up 66 sacks (next closest is LA, at 49) and a 1-15 team that was looking towards the post-season.

  • ryan72384

    I think his most impressive sack was his playoff strip sack last year against the Bengals. I think it was the playoff game against AJ McCarron.

  • Nolrog

    I’m not sure what you have seen to say that shows he can play in the NFL. I really haven’t seen much from him to let me believe that. He will get another contract, probably a 1-year deal, maybe just above vet min, for him to show what he can do (perhaps in a more pure 3-4 set up?) and then, IMO, he will be out of the league.His career, over 4 years, 128 tackles, 6.0 sacks, 2 INTs, 9 Passes Defended, 8 Stuffs (I assume ESPN uses that as tackles for loss). James Harrison in 2010, 100 tackles, 10.5 sacks, 2 INTs, 5 Passes Defended, 5 Stuffs. That’s one year compared to JJs career.

  • Ike Evans

    Its a nice send off for Jarvis

  • Jaybird

    It came against Thomas though, one of the best .

  • colingrant

    I see quite a few things actually.

    Wider Perspective – I’m looking at Jarvis Jones AND the rosters of 31 other teams. If he was good enough to be a part-time starter on a superbowl contender, he’s probably good enough to be the 5th linebacker on one of the 5 worst teams in the league. Easy call here, despite one’s thoughts on his lack of production.

    He can play for the Browns, Bears, Bills,etc, easily. Heck, Ziggy Hood starts for the Redskins. One has to look at the standard by which other teams are building there rosters. The only thing that will keep him from not being in the NFL is his asking price, not talent level. 6 teams are without coaches.

    That means, 6 teams are in transition and seeking reasonably priced talent to help build rosters that can keep them employed inside 24 months. The NFL reaches for talent all the time, as owners’ impatience forces personnel men to roll the dice on even underproductive high draft picks.

    Happens frequently actually. Just part of the game, so it’s not my opinion of him of a player, but the nature of how the NFL operates, pure and simple.

  • Jaybird

    I’m a little worried about Dupree. Like you said , a lot of his sacks seem to be hustle / coverage sacks after protection breaks down. I hope he can manufacture pressure on his own but I’m not convinced yet. I will say this though- Dupree is an asset against mobile QBs like Russel Wilson.

  • colingrant

    You’re correct actually. I voted up for Nolrog initially, but confused Dupree’s sack (against a rookie), with Jones’ play, who as you stated was against one of the best tackles of this era.

  • Jacob

    Another game that causes me to wondef if JJ’s issues are related to motivation.

  • colingrant

    His speed, athleticism and agility will allow him to make plays, so, he’s not going to go Jarvis Jones on us,……….. however, the Steelers need him to be able to maneuver past tackles and tight ends for no less than 8 sacks per season, or 1 every 2 games, not to mention pressures. His development is critical.

  • treeher

    I agree, former first rounders will attract attention (see DHB) but he doesn’t have the talent to play for a playoff contender except as a back up.

  • Xclewsive

    My thoughts exactly!!

  • colingrant

    You make my point, which is, he’s good enough to play in the NFL, regardless of role.

  • Kevin artis

    First two picks need to be edge rushers. Another late round pick, undrafted free agent and a free agent.

  • Da Bus Driver

    Pay the man a few mill to be a stud backup. If he balks, obviously let him walk on by. But why not see if he would accept a role on a defending SB Champs’ roster for a nice and low amount??

  • Charles Haines

    I believe JJ has been playing the wrong position. He is not nearly strong enough to play 3-4 OLB but his football IQ should allow him to flourish at ILB or MLB provided he’s not required to cover much.

  • T3xassteelers

    JJ seems to be a good player… Just can’t sack, which is the #1 priority of a Steeler OLB. Good all-around player, though imo.

  • VaDave

    We already have Moats for that role. I will say to your point, the Steelers will; let the market set his price, which I can’t imaging would be too staggering, bring him to camp, or cut him if we can land a decent draftee, or FA. No point to show him the door, unless some idiot with a fat checkbook comes along.

  • triplet99

    need someone that knows how to pick the OLB because Tomlin sure can’t

  • thomas hmmmm

    He picked Woodley and Worilds.. Two solid pass rushing OLBs who for different reasons their careers ended prematurely. The only bad pick has been JJ. So what are you talking about saying Tomlin has picked good OLBs?

  • Mr jack

    I agree and he would do much better playing the other side also,

  • Joeybaggadonuts

    I believe he’d be a good OLB in a 4-3… not thick enough for an IL IMHO.

  • steelburg

    I couldn’t have said it any better. I 100 percent agree with everything you just said. I was hard on Dupree a few weeks back simple because he is locked in as OLB number 1 for this team next year so I think he has to develop sooner rather than later.

  • colingrant

    10 years ago, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. This defense is still in construction and new parts have to perform immediately. In 2006, the Steelers linebackers were in apprenticeships due to a veteran defense which was formed in early 2000’s.

    The team is transitioning once again and what took place in 2006 is no longer applicable. The heavy reliance on Dupree can be partially traced back to Lamar Woodley’s chronic injured status, which prematurely forced the Steelers to jettison him from the team, followed by Jason Worilds premature retirement and the Steelers failing on Jarvis Jones being the answer.

    I’m not saying Worilds would have been the answer, but he was capable of getting high single digit sacks and pressures at the time of his retirement. What’s interesting is that the outside linebacking position is not as dependent upon as it was prior to the team optioning for athletic defensive lineman.

    Previously, low double digit sacks was the expectation, as the stay-at-home defensive linemen, to stop the run were less involved in getting to the QB. With Tuitt, Heyward, Hargrave, etc., the expectation is slightly less than before, but they HAVE to get home .5 sacks a game and 2-4 pressures per. That’s non-negotiable.

    It’s going to be uncomfortable for Dupree next year as the Steelers can’t count on Harrison to perform at 39, even if he’s capable of doing so. Just can’t count on it. His contributions have to be seen as a bonus.

  • steelburg

    Once again I 100 percent agree with everything you just said.

  • Charles Haines

    Shazier, Timmons and Farrior are/were all under 230lbs no?

  • LabRat0116

    He has the hussell, but lacks POWER. JJ just does not have the strength to power through people. Simple as that.