The first round draft pick out of Georgia, Jarvis Jones, had high expectations going into his first season, and so far he doesn't see himself achieving them this season.
"The Steelers brought me in here to pressure the quarterback and create turnovers," Jones said in a comment about his rookie season. "I haven't done any of that yet. So my grade wouldn't be very high, but I'm searching for ways to get better.”
That being said, Jones has ten unassisted tackles on defense and four special team tackles. The veterans that have been cornerstones in the Steelers' defense, such as Troy Polamalu and Ike Taylor, know that it takes time to fully develop into Dick LeBeau's defensive schematics and be a consistently effective player. Although it's tough to provide an honest evaluation of Jones amid all of the Steelers' problems, they see him developing nicely into the scheme and have the highest confidence that Jones will eventually be an all-star for Pittsburgh's defense.
But eventually isn't now; and right now the team needs their first win since beating the Cleveland Browns in week 17 of the 2012-2013 season. Jones knows that he has to develop into that playmaker sooner rather than later if the Steelers are going to see more plays being made in their opponents' backfields.
Steelers veteran Cameron Heyward thinks the answer to Jones' problems is more about holistic problems within the defense. Which makes sense; if offenses aren't being put in more situations where you know they have to pass, the pass rushers can't pin their ears back and focus on putting heat on the quarterback. 3rd and 7 and longer make it easier for defensive players to key on certain stunts and focus on getting to the quarterback. Although these opportunities have arisen, Heyward's point is that there aren't enough of these.
Either way, it's good that Jones feels as if he knows what he has to improve upon so he can work at it. It isn't good that the team has yet to develop a consistent pass rush that can generate multiple sacks during games this season. But it's not just the defense's play on third down that needs to be focused upon, it's about having solid play on both first and second downs in drives to key up a more difficult third down conversion for an opponent to complete. If the defense can provide more opportunities like that, maybe we'll see Jones' first sack of his career next week.
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