After Jarvis Jones saw a significant decrease in his snap count against the Oakland Raiders last weekend, many questions hovered around the progress of the 1st round draft pick from the University of Georgia. Steelers' head coach made it plain and simple that Jones needs to work on the details of his game and get better at the little things, so that big things could happen.
Jones has taken a step back and Jason Worilds is currently the starter at the right outside linebacker spot in Pittsburgh, which has caused for speculation about the position and Jones' play going forward.
But while the rookie works to improve his play day-to-day, the wily defensive coordinator, Dick LeBeau, likes his progress.
"I think Jarvis is on schedule for a first-year linebacker," LeBeau said. "I don’t think he’s any further ahead or behind than James Harrison was, than Jason Worilds was, than LaMarr Woodley was. I think J.J. is going to be fine."
While Jones has yet to register a sack in his first season, LeBeau's point makes sense; LaMarr Woodley only had four sacks in his rookie season of 2007, before he exploded with a three-peat of seasons with double-digit sack totals.
Steeler's former linebacker, Joey Porter, only registered two sacks in his rookie season. He then averaged 9.5 sacks per season for the next three years with the Steelers and would become a major leader for Pittsburgh's defense.
James Harrison only registered 4 total sacks in his first three seasons with the Steelers, but from 2007 to 2011 he averaged over 10 sacks per season.
The Steelers' organization knows how to live in the now, improve their players' skills and team chemistry in order for them to have strong careers, especially at the linebacker position. They'll put pressure on their players to improve every day in order to get their best effort to the point where rookies are so busy working that they aren't sure what week it is.
But while Jones is focused on being a better player everyday, he also isn't letting his lack of instant success slow him down or shake his confidence that he'll develop into a strong player.
"I’m not going to get it overnight," Jones said of the Steelers’ defense. "I’ve got to continue to get work, get in the film room more, better my technique, just be productive and make plays," said Jones, who has 18 tackles and three quarterback pressures. "I respect this game. I love it. I am just going to keep trying to get better and be ready for my opportunity."
If you're out there thinking that this rookie's a bust because he hasn't exploded onto the scene and made a case for defensive rookie of the year, you need to broaden your perspective. Jones has plenty of time before he can be expected to have to carry the Steelers' defense, as did many of the legends that came before him.
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