Danny Smith says he still loves Jacoby Jones.
But not enough to keep him in the starting lineup.
Though it doesn’t take a football junkie like Smith to tell you Jones’ performance Sunday night wasn’t close to meeting the standard, he explained the decision to Bob Labriola in this week’s Coordinator Corner.
“Everybody is on Jacoby Jacoby Jaocby, and nobody more than me, but when a guy is out here and not making plays, he gets demoted. That’s the nature of the business. When coaches don’t do their job, they got demoted…it’s no different.”
Though Smith noted Jones hadn’t had a history of ball security issues, any player who doesn’t do the little things is going to have trouble succeeding.
“He put us in a tough situation. He didn’t detail his work. He is demoted as a result.”
Short, sweet, and to the point. Which is all what it really needs to be. You’re disappointed in Jacoby Jones. I’m disappointed in Jacoby Jones. Jacoby Jones is disappointed in Jacoby Jones. I don’t want to beat a dead horse here, though I wanted to include Smith’s comments because if there’s a guy you want to hear from, it’s him.
Though it is incredibly unlikely we see him get another crack to be the return man, Smith did leave that door cracked open in a likely move to keep Jones motivated and engaged. He is, of course, still on this team, and is destined to remain so unless injuries force a roster move.
“For now, he’s been demoted and he’s gotta earn his way back like any player.”
More optimistically, Smith talked about the traits he liked in the new kick returner, Markus Wheaton.
“First of all, he’s tough. When you’re talking about 10 guys running at you with a head start of 40 yards dash and you’re running back at them, you gotta have some toughness to do those things. As well as his hands and escapability and his quickness and his speed. He enjoys doing it.”
Wheaton replaced Dri Archer as the Steelers’ kick returner in the second half of 2014, a performance Smith called “pretty dang good” in today’s interview with Labriola. Last year, he averaged a healthy 24.7 yards per return on 20 opportunities.