Is change, just for the sake of change, really that important?
The Pittsburgh Steelers defense needs plenty of change, but where are they going to find the change they are so desperately searching? After all, if the fans were in charge of the team, the entire defense, and coaching staff, would have been given their pink slips after the loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 10.
Back in the real world, the coaching staff is watching the same film as the fans, and it isn’t good. Change is needed, but again, where will it come from? The secondary is shoddy at best, and fans want Artie Burns and Mike Mitchell benched. In theory, that’s fine, but who will you put in their place? William Gay goes back to the outside and Sean Davis moves to the slot? Not really the best case scenario for the rookie out of Maryland.
Mitchell gets benched, and who plays in his stead? Davis and Robert Golden in the back half? I have a feeling Davis is going to be really good, but not yet. That tandem at safety would spell even more doom for the Pittsburgh secondary.
Leave it to the biggest draft disappointment of the Mike Tomlin era to be the scapegoat fans are looking for in regards to change. Yes, none other than Jarvis Jones. The player some have called ‘El Busto’, due to him not living up to the expectations of a first round draft pick, saw his label as a starter stripped away, and given that to the ageless wonder named James Harrison.
It is almost as if when this news broke Wednesday evening a collective “YES!” went throughout Steelers Nation, but don’t get too excited.
The Steelers will still run a rotation at outside linebacker, and although Harrison will likely see more snaps than Jones, it isn’t as if Jones will be watching from the sideline for four quarters this Sunday in Cleveland.
This move also has a lot to do with the loss of Cameron Heyward. Without Heyward the Steelers defense simply isn’t as good at stopping the run. In fact, the Steelers are surrendering over 6-yards a carry without Heyward, compared to the 3-yards with him in the lineup. Think back to the Miami Dolphins game, and how Jay Ajayi ran to Jones’ side time and time again, but it wasn’t just Jones’ side, but also Javon Hargrave and Ricardo Mathews’ side. Harrison will be better suited to help seal the edge and prevent big runs off his side of the defense.
It should also be noted, even at the age of 38, Harrison is still the team’s most prolific pass rusher, which speaks volumes about the edge rushers on the current roster. Given more opportunities, he will likely get home more against opposing offenses, but Harrison’s production, rightfully so, has dwindled.
If fans are wondering how the Steelers feel about Jones, well that was obvious when they didn’t pick up his 5th year option prior to the 2016 season beginning. They gave him ample time to prove himself, and it simply didn’t work out. The defense needed change, and this was really the only change which could take place.
Could the team swap Lawrence Timmons for Vince Williams? Possibly, but Timmons hasn’t been a major issue throughout the first 9 games of the season. No, they needed to find someone to take the fall, a scapegoat, and it was found in No. 95.
I doubt most will lost sleep over the fact Jarvis Jones is no longer a starter, but in terms of issues, this is just the tip of the iceberg for this defense, and purely a band aid over the gaping wound left where Cameron Heyward once was.