Marc named Lance Moore as his most important Steelers player in 2014… but I’m looking at the other side of the ball.
The player I think is most important to the Steelers success in 2014 is 2013 first round pick, Jarvis Jones.
For Dick Lebeau’s scheme to be successful, the Steelers HAVE to generate pressure, and to this point in the pre-season we haven’t seen much.
Guys like Cameron Heyward and Lawrence Timmons can chip in on the effort and create some sacks and hurries… but that’s not their primary responsibility. Jones’ job is get to the Quarterback.
I’ll admit I wasn’t crazy about Jones when he was selected (I had hoped Kenny Vaccaro would fall), but I was pleasantly surprised with Jones as a rookie.
I know most of you are thinking Jones didn’t do much as a rookie, and you’re right, but I saw a player flashing potential… but thinking too much.
My hope is that Jones plays more on instincts this season and produces more pressure. I wasn’t all that impressed with what I saw in the pre-season, until the final week when Jones seemed more active.
Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert aren’t officially on the hot seat yet… but if Jones were to bust, that could be the straw that broke the camel’s back.
They’re obviously well aware that they need Jones, because they hired Joey Porter this off-season to try and light a fire under him.
Plenty of people have told me that they think Worilds is just as important… which is true. However, I think that Jones is the bigger question mark. Worilds produced over a decent period of time and is still working for a new contract.
I asked Gerry Dulac of the Post-Gazette about Jones needing to step up in his chat today, to which he responded “You’e right — he has to. This defense is predicated on the outside backers presuring the quarterback, which is why its incumbent on Jones and Jason Worilds combining for a minimum 20 sacks to be successful. Now, I don’t know if JJ has 10 sacks in him, but we’ll see. But I do know he has to have a lot more than he had last season, which was 1.”