Jarvis Jones was in fact only one of two starting linebackers that the Pittsburgh Steelers got back healthy on Sunday as they visited the home of the Cincinnati Bengals, as rookie starter Ryan Shazier was also active for the first time in a few games.
Unlike the rookie, however, Jones actually saw time on defense—significant time, in fact, as he wound up playing more than did Arthur Moats, who has started the majority of the season in his absence.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t the most encouraging sight to behold, as Jones offered close to nothing on the pass rush, which is what he spent the majority of his time doing. The fact that Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth is among the best in the game at his position didn’t help.
But there was little positive, overall, to take from this game that expressed growth, which is frustrating, but perhaps understandable. He had, of course, just missed the previous nine games, and 10 weeks in total, with a wrist injury that he had to strengthen over the past few weeks. He was bound to be rusty. Where he goes from here will be telling.
He did have one play early on against the run in which he assisted in stopping running back Jeremy Hill on a third and two. The Bengals set out two of their linemen wide, which just three presiding over the ball.
Off the snap, Jones was lined up just inside the wide left tackle, but once the handoff was made, he got inside quickly to tackle the ball carrier, stopping him a yard short of the first down. This was the highlight of his day.
An example of his struggle to get anything on the pass rush can be seen on this play late in the third quarter. As had been a common theme during his rookie season, Jones was calmly walked up the arc by the left tackle, who waited for the linebacker to bend and then pushed him upfield by the shoulder pad.
On this play in the fourth quarter, Whitworth had little difficulty absorbing the second-year edge rusher’s power move, though the lineman nearly wound up ripping off his helmet in the process, to which Jones objected.
A few plays into the Bengals next drive in the fourth quarter, Jones was once again caught high coming around the edge and Whitworth had little trouble sending him upfield. With virtually no bend to speak of, the left tackle had full control of the rusher as he wound up pushing him to the ground.
To his credit, Jones did come back on the next play and finally beat Whitworth around the edge, even though the pass was completed for seven yards, shy of a first down. He took an inside step and then bounced outside, getting around the corner with misdirection and speed to get just a piece of Dalton at the end of the play.