When the Pittsburgh Steelers re-signed veteran outside linebacker James Harrison, fans were happy to hear there would be help behind Arthur Moats and Jarvis Jones as the primary pass rushers on the Steelers' roster. Of the two potential starting OLBs, it is Jones who has fans concerned. After all, Jones was a first round draft pick in 2013 dubbed the 'sack man' and hasn't quite lived up to that moniker in his young NFL career.
2015 is an important season for Jones. Although Jones still has years remaining on his rookie contract, you get the sense the organization is starting to become unsettled with a player who should be performing at a higher level than what they are seeing on Sundays.
In his first two seasons, Jones has played in 21 total games, starting 11 of those contests. In his time on the field he has a combined total of 3 sacks and 40 total tackles.
To Jones' credit, his rookie season was a learn-on-the-job experience where few rookies perform at a high level in Dick LeBeau's 3-4 scheme. Jones wasn't supposed to play as much as a rookie, but when the organization saw James Harrison jettison Pittsburgh for Cincinnati, Jones was thrust into the spotlight, and it wasn't very flattering.
Jones often looked over matched by NFL tackles, and the outside speed rush move which was his bread-and-butter at the University of Georgia certainly wasn't working as well at the pro level. What possibly might have been more frustrating for Jones and fans alike would be his 2014 season. Jones garnered 2 sacks in his first 3 games before injuring his wrist and being placed on the designated to return injured reserve list.
Last season Jones showed more versatility in his pass rushing technique and looked to thrive under the coaching of Joey Porter. Porter has since been named the official outside linebackers coach of the Steelers and one can only hope Jones proves the small sample size of his 2014 season becomes the norm in 2015
While at the owners' meetings in Phoenix, Arizona, Mike Tomlin talked about Jones and his expectations, along with fellow linebacker Ryan Shazier.
"I'm excited about what those guys are going to be for us. I know they're excited about proving their worth. I look forward to going through the process with them this year."
Proving his worth is certainly something Jones will be aiming to do next season. Jones, along with Shazier and Vince Williams have been training with Harrison in Arizona this offseason, and Steelers brass and fans are hoping some of Harrison's training and work ethic translates into sacks for the third-year pro as he enters what very well might be a make-or-break 2015 season.