One of the early storylines out of OTA’s is about Jarvis Jones and how he’ll respond on the field to the team not picking up his 5th year option.
Plenty of fans have already firmly affixed the bust label to Jarvis Jones, which is fine, if that’s your opinion.
Personally, I think the Steelers were 100% right not to keep Jarvis under contract in his 5th season given what that would have cost, but I also don’t think he’s a bust.
Has he lived up to expectations? No, not in Pittsburgh, where outside linebackers are expected to get to the Quarterback. His 5 sacks in 3 seasons just isn’t what we’d consider good production from a 1st round pick at his position.
If I had to guess, I would bet Jarvis probably doesn’t suddenly become a monster pass rusher this season, but I think that’s ok. I can’t say that I hope he doesn’t, because if he has double digit sacks this team might be in the Superbowl, but if he doesn’t and it keeps his price tag down that wouldn’t be the worse thing in the world either.
The Jarvis Jones situation reminds me a little bit of Ziggy Hood. Hood was a solid piece of the puzzle but he didn’t live up to his first round pedigree. I didn’t think that should really be a factor in giving him a new contract; just sign him for what he’s worth. Ziggy left, and the Steelers are still looking for a 3rd DE to take some pressure off of Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt.
I feel the same way about Jarvis Jones, but I actually still think that Jarvis’ ceiling is higher than Ziggy’s was, and I say that because of the team’s philosophy changes on defense.
There could be a huge article on this alone, so I won’t get too in depth but all the signs are there that the team is moving towards focusing more on a 4-3 alignment.
Bud Dupree is the last piece on the team that could be seen as a future edge rusher in a traditional Steelers defense, but at 270 pounds he could easily be a hand-in-the-dirt edge guy. The team didn’t pick up Jarvis’ option and James Harrison is going to be gone in 2017 and the team didn’t draft a 3-4 OLB. Doesn’t that tell you they don’t think they need them going forward?
They grabbed Hargrave who they’ve discussed as a nose tackle but his skillset fits the 3-technique to a tee. They drafted Travis Feeney who looks like a 4-3 OLB to me, because he’s way too small to be considered and edge rusher.
So wait, I want them to re-sign Jarvis Jones, a 3-4 OLB, when they’re transitioning to a 4-3?
Yes! I think that Jarvis Jones has some great qualities for an NFL linebacker, I just don’t think he’s a very talented pass rusher.
Which is why I see Jarvis Jones as a great fit at linebacker in the team’s future scheme with his strengths in playing against the run and in coverage, which the Steelers had him doing a lot of in 2015.
I think that he’s a better fit on the strong side, but probably has the versatility to play on both sides. If Feeney works out I think that I like his speed and closing ability on the weakside, and put Jarvis on the other, with Shazier manning the middle.
Obviously, there’s a lot of football to play before Jarvis hits free agency and lots of things can change between now and then, but I think that the Steelers are going to have a lot of money to give to guys like Heyward, Tuitt, and Shazier. You need reliable role players in spots, and I believe Jarvis could be one of those guys.