A new team, a fresh start and being surrounded by plenty of high-end talent on the defensive side of the football under great defensive minds in Mike Tomlin, Teryl Austin and Brian Flores could lead to a significant bounce-back season for Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Myles Jack.
At least, that’s what Pro Football Focus is banking on, tabbing the veteran linebacker as the Steelers’ top bounce-back candidate for the 2022 season Thursday.
Signed to a two-year, $12 million deal in free agency just one day after being cut by the Jacksonville Jaguars in a surprise move, Jack landed in the Steel City with the intentions of solidifying the inside linebacker position for the black and gold, a position that’s gone through its fair share of ups and downs since Ryan Shazier suffered that tragic back injury in Cincinnati all those years ago.
Coming off of a rather disappointing season in Jacksonville that raised questions about his knees and his abilities moving forward, Jack has responded well to his time in Pittsburgh, putting together a very strong training camp and a good Steelers debut in the preseason opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Still, it was a bit concerning to see Jack’s play in 2021 in Duval. Last season, Jack recorded a career-worst 37.7 grade from PFF, making him one of the worst linebackers in football in a shocking display. Now though, with a new team and an ideal setup for him, he’s poised for a bounce back.
“What didn’t go wrong in Jacksonville last year? It’s hard to blame Jack for a down season, considering the state of the Jaguars’ coaching staff and general morale in the building,” PFF writes regarding Jack as the selection for the Steelers bounce back candidate. “In Jack’s previous three healthy seasons, his lowest grade was 68.3.”
There’s still a very good linebacker in there, one that can play downhill against the run, run sideline to sideline and really make an impact overall. Throughout training camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Jack has put those abilities on display, as ESPN’s Brooke Pryor tells PFF for the piece that published Thursday morning.
“Jack is the Steelers’ steadiest inside linebacker through 2 1/2 weeks of training camp,” Pryor said to PFF. “In the first padded practice, Jack blew up fullback Derek Watt in one of the final reps of backs-on-backers, and in team periods, he has shown a knack for shooting the gap and stopping the run. With Devin Bush coming off a roller-coaster season following a 2020 ACL tear, Jack is primed to lead the position group and revitalize the Steelers’ run defense.”
Jack has been really good in camp and has solidified his spot in the starting lineup defensively while Devin Bush and Robert Spillane battle it out for the role next to him in 2022. How much of an impact the new addition can make right away remains to be seen, but hopes are high that Jack can get back to his pre-2021 form and hold down the inside linebacker job for years to come.