For those of you that don’t know (which is probably most of you considering I haven’t written about it much), I am a huge Jarvis Jones fan. I have referred to him as “The Beast” since I saw him tearing it up in his junior season for the Georgia Bulldogs. He had 13.5 sacks that year and had a way of making opposing offensive linemen look inferior on a lot of plays.
Prior to the 2013 college football season, I predicted that Georgia would win the Southeastern Conference Championship and the National Championship, based on the presence of Jarvis along with quarterback Aaron Murray. For an Alabama Crimson Tide fan to predict that it was a big deal (Borderline blasphemy).
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The Bulldogs were five yards short of completing my prediction in the SEC Championship. They lost to my Alabama team who then went on to destroy the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the national championship.
Before the 2013 National Football League Draft, Jarvis Jones fell out of the top ten predictions due to Spinal Stenosis (?!) and became slotted to be taken by our own Pittsburgh Steelers. I hoped and hoped and when it happened (one of the few times it seemed that just about everybody predicted the Steelers first round pick correctly), I was the happiest member of Steeler Nation.
The Beast was coming to Pittsburgh!
During the offseason workouts, training camp, and the preseason, Jones showed flashes of what he could do and I had high hopes. He would earn playing time and eventually a starting spot (more out of necessity than anything) and all of Steeler Nation was waiting for him to do great things during his rookie season.
It was not meant to be. There is a reason rookies don’t get a lot of playing time in Dick LeBeau’s system.
I took every shot and comment against Jarvis personally, and defended him every chance I got. He is going to grow and get better; it was only his rookie season. He earned valuable playing time. The rest of the team didn’t look so hot either.
During the 2014 offseason, Jarvis reportedly worked to get stronger (although maintaining his weight of 245 pounds) and improve his technique. He was coached up by Joey Porter, a beast in his own right. Once again there has been positive reviews coming out of offseason activities and training camp. I have high hopes once again. I even bought myself a Jarvis Jones jersey as a birthday present to myself a couple of weeks ago.
Sep 8, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Jarvis Jones (95) chases a fumbled ball against the Tennessee Titans during the third quarter at Heinz Field. The Tennessee Titans won 16-9. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Within the first quarter of the first preseason game, Jones recorded his first sack, matching his total from the entire 2013 season. I didn’t get to watch the game live because the Powers-That-Be determined it would be a good idea for me to be working during the Steelers first preseason game. When I read about it and mentioned it to my buddy who is a Giants fan, his reply was “Against a scrub.” (Haters gonna hate.)
Regardless of who it was against, an early sack is a good sign that the work he has put in during the offseason has helped. He did indeed beat the offensive lineman on the inside instead of the outside, which he had problems with last season. It will also give him confidence moving forward.
The Beast is about to be unleashed in Pittsburgh! It may be a more technical and less hugely overwhelming beast, but a beast nonetheless. I don’t care how he gets sacks and makes plays, as long as he does it. That’s what this defense needs in the 2014 season.
I am not going to predict that Jarvis Jones is going to dominate the NFL in his second year and earn Defensive Player of the Year honors, but I am going to predict that he will be much improved (I’m thinking eight sacks) and keep working to become a great player for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He will show he was worth that first round draft pick in 2013.