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Jarvis Jones Needs To Be Trusted As A Closer In 2016

Jarvis Jones has struggled as a pass rusher.

Man, I hope you were sitting down for that.

Five sacks in three seasons. It is a complicated issue, even if it seems as easy as Jarvis = bust. There are several factors at play – scheme, coverage assignments, the talent around him. Another issue to go into for another day.

But I don’t want to sit here and make excuses for a first rounder clearly missing expectations. Jones is not trusted enough as a pass rusher. And so consequently, when the Steelers need to close out a game, they turn to James Harrison.

We’re going to show this in three simple stats. Below, we’ll break the two snap counts into three categories: total over the season, with more than five minutes left in the 4th quarter, and less than five minutes left in the 4th quarter.

Including the playoff, there were 1245 potential snaps between Harrison and Jones, per our charting. Here are their numbers and percentages.

James Harrison: 696/1245 – 55.9%
Jarvis Jones: 517/1245 – 41.5%

Now let’s look at snaps in the fourth quarter – from the entire season – with more than five minutes remaining. There were 222 up for grabs.

James Harrison: 127/222 – 57.2%
Jarvis Jones: 97/222 – 43.7%

Both actually sees a tiny uptick in snaps but statistically speaking, pretty negligible. If you’re wondering, the two actually go beyond 100% because they were on the field at the same time in some instances.

Finally, let’s look at the snap counts in the final five minutes of the game. 145 snaps.

James Harrison: 104/145 – 71.7%
Jarvis Jones: 42/145 – 29%

Now, we’re seeing a drastic difference between the two. Sure, the sample size is smaller and there’s the potential for more variance but this contrast is stark. Jones’ percentage goes down 12.5%, a decrease so noticeable and swift that Enron is laughing. Harrison skyrockets like Apple after another new iPhone, pinging 15.8%.

Typically, the Steelers rotated every series between the two. But late in games, the team went to Deebo. If you want a tape example of that, check out the Wild Card game against the Cincinnati Bengals. A game in which Jones had a strip sack fumble.

Harrison played 16 of the final 17 snaps, including both series with the Steelers leading, the Bengals in an obvious pass situation. When the Steelers lost the lead, Jarvis Jones was put back out there for one snap, Jeremy Hill’s fumble. Harrison returned for the game’s final play.

I’m sure there is some randomness at play – Harrison’s turn to “go in” – but clearly, there is a pattern here. Harrison is, understandably, the Steelers’ “guy” in money situations. Jones is going to need to make some impact plays in big moments to wrestle those snaps away from a proven player like Harrison.

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