Now that training camp is over with the Pittsburgh Steelers back in Pittsburgh and gearing up for what they hope will be a much more productive season, it’s time to take stock of where the team stands. Specifically, where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen and are seeing over the course of training camp and the preseason and the regular season as it plays out. A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasoning for each one. In some cases, it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances, it will be a direct response to something that just happened. Because of this, we can and will see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: ILB Myles Jack
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: The fact of the offense’s inability to score or to stay on the field has somewhat overshadowed the reality that the Steelers’ defense has, for the most part, played very well this season, and the offseason addition of Myles Jack at the second level has been a key part of that.
Myles Jack has been one of the Steelers’ better defenders thus far this season, and that’s saying something considering the talent that they do have. His presence at the second level of the defense this year has been sorely needed after what they went through last year.
Already he has 23 tackles on the season, including 13 on Sunday against the New England Patriots, and for the most part, those have been productive tackles. A surprising number of them have actually been on passing downs, where he’s generally been able to make tackles short of the sticks. Even on the final drive against the Patriots, he was in on the one negative play they ran, he and Alex Highsmith combining on a tackle for a two-yard loss.
Now I’m not going to anoint him as the true heir to Ryan Shazier or anything like that, but he has been a pleasant addition to the team this year, both in terms of his play and in the enthusiasm that he brings to the game.
Aside from a physically and mentally healthy Stephon Tuitt or adequate replacement, the one thing I wanted most for this defense coming into the 2022 season was a steady presence at the inside linebacker position, which I saw as an even bigger issue than what was going on up front.
Jack has been that, and this front, and system, are allowing him to play as freely as he has perhaps in his entire career thus far. The Steelers certainly paid a high price for him, relative to their customary budget in free agency, but I think they’re getting their money’s worth, especially considering the in-house alternatives.