It’s not uncommon for the Steelers to have camp darlings at the linebacker position. The names include Tuzar Skipper, Matthew Thomas, and the most successful of the bunch being Ola Adeniyi who appeared in three seasons with the team before signing a free agent contract with the Tennessee Titans this offseason. The latest group of edge linebackers shining during training camp include Quincy Roche and Jamir Jones.
Jones originally came out of Notre Dame in 2020 as an undrafted free agent, signing with the Houston Texans. However, he didn’t impress the team enough to make the squad. While he did catch the Steelers eye when working out at his alma mater’s Pro Day earlier this year. The Steelers signed him to the 90-man roster.
Today, we’ll be taking a deep dive into Jones’ performance, evaluating his ups and downs from last Thursday night’s debut.
After watching all of Jamir Jones’ 39 defensive snaps against the Cowboys, the number one thing that sticks out to me is his relentless motor. There are a few things you can control as a football player, hustle is one of them, and Jones has it.
In the clip below, you can see he has nice acceleration off the snap. This could improve even more. Looking at his first step, it is actually backwards, also called a false step. Nonetheless, he still gets a good jump off the ball. He does get a bit too upfield here, but is able to hustle the entire way across the formation, hurdle a man, and get in on the tackle.
While it’s not a spectacular play, it’s something that definitely stood out relative to the other Steelers linebackers in this game.
Staying on topic, we’ll fast-forward to the last snap of the game. This is after Jones put in the second-highest snap count of anyone in the game with 54 (39 defense + 15 special teams). You can see his hands on his hips before the snap, but he still is able to bull rush and rip away from the tackle, forcing a QB throwaway.
The highlight of Jones’ day set the tone for the Steelers defense on the first play of the second half. Jones is lined up on the edge at the top of the screen. He’s able to hold his point of attack against the tackle and drive through him, pairing with Isaiahh Loudermilk for a tackle for loss.
Jones is able to show off his long-arm pass rush on the blow clip. While he doesn’t combine the move with anything else, it proves effective as he’s able to bully the tackle into the quarterback and get the quarterback hit. The pressure ultimately forces the ball out of this QB’s hands quicker, resulting in a Donovan Stiner interception.
Here’s another angle of the Jones’ QB hit. As he comes into the screen from the left, look at the power he’s able to generate by getting underneath the pads of left tackle and making the quarterback feel him the next day with a nice pop.
At the bottom of the screen you can see Jones lined up over the tight end. He’s able to show off more of his pass rush repertoire, making quick work of him with a push-pull-rip move.
While this is more of a manufactured pressure due to the Cowboys line being fooled by the stunt, who am I not to show another one of Jones’ pressures on the day? If Roche isn’t there, this is likely Jones’ sack.
This is Jones’ last pressure of the day that we’ll go over. This one shows good balance and athleticism from him. The left tackle thinks he’s pushed him enough up the arc with a punch, while it almost does get Jones on the ground, he doesn’t go down. He’s able to bend the arc and bear crawl into the quarterback, just missing the sack and forcing the bad throw.
He’s lucky the referees didn’t throw the flag on the low hit to the quarterback, but the other angle shows Jones actually hits him around the upper thigh. However, we’ve seen it called before i.e. Ola Adeniyi vs. the Ravens in 2019.
One of my favorite attributes to look for in defensive guys are if they’re able to shed blocks in the run game. On this rep, you can see Jones has the ability to do so. We just need to see it on a more consistent basis. He stands the tackle up, sees the run inside, and then rips him to the side. The motor at the end to get in on the tackle is just the cherry on top.
There was hardly any film of Jones dropping into coverage, but the one time he did, he did his job. On the Cowboys’ 4th-and-1, he doesn’t get fooled by the play-action or sucked up by the boot. Jones easily stays in the releasing tight end’s pocket, forcing the throw downfield.
I didn’t see anything too overwhelming from Jones on special teams. He did get in on one tackle on Pressley Harvin III’s first punt, another example of his motor never quitting.
In terms of special teams reps, Jones’ 15 snaps were only one rep behind Buddy Johnson and Tre Norwood for the lead. That’s where he’s going to have to impress most to make the back end of the roster.
All in all, a solid showing for Jones. I really thought he looked more solid than Quincy Roche, outside of Roche’s sack. His ability to finish plays and hold his own at the point of attack shows there may be something there. That being said, it still looks like Cassius Marsh’s job to lose for OLB4. With three preseason games left, Jones has a lot of time to close that gap.