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 inside linebacker returned to action yesterday after not seeing the field the previous week and, as usual, led the team in tackles, adding a pass defensed along the way.
I’m sure a lot of you are not in the mood to hear anything positive about the Steelers in the wake of yesterday’s loss, especially about the defense, but I think we might as well start this week’s series on a high note. Even if he didn’t get a full workload, it was good to see Myles Jack back on the field and playing how we’ve become accustomed to seeing him perform.
That was highlighted by a nine-tackle performance, which led the team, something we’ve grown accustomed to seeing, although it must be said that only two of those tackles actually resulted in a successful play for the offense. He did a lot of clean-up work on the night. But he was an asset in taking on blockers even when he wasn’t making the plays himself.
Jack also had a pass defensed, batted at the line, that potentially prevented a big play. Bengals head coach Zac Taylor noted that the Steelers as a defense had been really good about disrupting the throwing lanes, including from the linebackers, and this wasn’t his first play of this nature on the year.
We should probably talk about pass coverage. First and foremost, he wasn’t on the field for two of Samaje Perine’s touchdowns. That was Robert Spillane who was out there. The one for which he was in the game he nearly made the play, and he deserves credit for that.
This was the third touchdown from six yards out, Jack playing Perine. The Bengals ran a rub route, which Jack did a great job of eluding, but it unfortunately slowed him down just enough to put him a hair’s length out of reach of making the play. That Devin Bush got turned around by the tight end didn’t help matters.
Of course, they say that ‘almost’ only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. But hours after the loss, Jack was probably the defender I was most comfortable writing positively about at the moment, so here we are.