In the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday home loss to the New England Patriots, outside linebacker Jarvis Jones perhaps had his best game of his career as he registered seven total tackles and a forced fumble during that contest in addition to drawing a few holding calls as a pass rusher.
While Jones has still yet to record a sack so far this season, his position coach Joey Porter is happy with the play he’s seen so far out of the former first-round draft pick out of Georgia.
“I feel he’s definitely playing the run good,” said Porter when he talked to the media a few days ago. “He’s doing some real good things. He had some good reads on that play where he shot the gap and tackled that guy in the backfield and started the game off a tackle and a fumble.
“I mean, he’s playing better than he has in the past. I see his game growing, but like I tell them guys all the time, ‘We’re in Pittsburgh, we play outside linebacker, we’re going to get judged by our production and sack game. They don’t care about you having nine or 10 tackles.’ That’s all good, but we know what we’re going to get judged for and until we do that, you guys won’t see the good things that he is doing. But he is playing much better than he has.”
Jones, who failed to have his fifth-year option picked up by the Steelers during the offseason, entered the bye week having already registered 27 total tackles in addition to an interception and a forced fumble. He also has played the most snaps of all the outside linebackers currently on the roster and that includes veteran James Harrison, who has also yet to record a sack so far this season.
With Jones seemingly playing better this season, it sounds like Porter is wanting to keep him on the field even more moving forward.
“He definitely needs to be on the field more,” Porter said, per Dale Lolley of the Washington Observer-Reporter. “I’m trying to make sure he’s out there, but with (James) Harrison, I can’t let him sit for a long time because he’s an older guy. If he doesn’t get in there at some point and time and get warmed up, it’s hard for that 38-year-old body to get going. So I have to get him in the game or riding a bike to keep him warm. But Jarvis is definitely playing real, real well to this point.”
Whatever Porter and the rest of the Steelers’ coaches decide to do personnel-wise moving forward when it comes to the outside linebacker position, the unit absolutely needs to start producing more from a quarterback pressure standpoint. Combined, Porter’s unit has registered just 2.5 sacks and 14 total quarterback hits in the team’s first seven games and that’s just not going to cut it moving forward.
Even though outside linebacker Bud Dupree should be returning fairly soon from his hernia injury that has had him sidelined most of training camp and all of the regular season, it’s hard to expect him to come in and provide a serious impact as a pass rusher due to all of the time that he’s missed.
Should the Steelers outside linebackers not produce significantly over the course of the remainder of the regular season, Porter’s job could be at risk as his unit hasn’t produced since he started overseeing them.