Steelers fans need to pump the brakes on expectations for LB Myles Jack

Myles Jack #44 of the Jacksonville Jaguars. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Myles Jack #44 of the Jacksonville Jaguars. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) /

Myles Jack has been a solid football player in the past, but here’s why the Pittsburgh Steelers might not be getting the player fans think they are.

After being active in free agency early during the legal tampering period, the Steelers made a splash move that got fans on their feet when they signed the recently-released Jaguars linebacker, Myles Jack.

This is a name that many fans have been familiar with for years. Entering the 2016 NFL Draft, many fans were screaming at the top of their lungs for Myles Jack when the Pittsburgh Steelers were on the board in the first round. Sadly, Colbert went with the now infamous Artie Burns. This, obviously, proved to be the wrong decision.

Jack didn’t do much as a rookie, but by year two, he really turned heads with a productive and efficient season in which he graded out as the 14th best linebacker in the league. Though he hasn’t made a Pro Bowl to date, Jack has been a successful draft pick of the Jaguars.

Sadly, the past three years have not been as kind to him, as his play went on a bit of a backslide. This past season was arguably his worst to date. Though he managed to record 108 total tackles, there are far better means of evaluating linebackers.

When you put on his 2021 tape, you see a linebacker who struggled in the passing game and was bullied in the run. In fact, it was not all that dissimilar from what we saw from Devin Bush a season ago (and we all know how most fans feel about him). Last year, Jack earned just a 37.7 overall grade from Pro Football Focus — good for 77th out of 87 qualifying linebackers.

What should Steelers fans expect from Jack?

I’m not completely down on Myles Jack, but there are plenty of reasons to be concerned. In addition to coming off a poor 2021 season, Jack has a knee issue that has been described as a “time bomb.” Doctors determined prior to entering the league that he already had “bone and cartilage starting to break away.”

This doesn’t guarantee that Jack will have a short NFL career, but perhaps it’s part of the reason why we have seen his play regress so much in recent years.

Regardless of these issues, I do think that Jack could prove to be a serviceable defender for the Steelers in 2022, and perhaps all he needs is a change of scenery. Unfortunately, linebackers who have changed teams in free agency haven’t had a lot of success in recent years.

NFL personality Marcus Mosher put together a list of some of the highly-paid off-ball linebackers to swap teams in free agency, and the results have not been kind to the team dishing out these deals:

In all honesty, you can argue that there hasn’t been a single name on this list that has been worth the money he was handed in free agency. This isn’t to say that Myles Jack can’t break the trend, but it is a bit concerning.

In today’s NFL, off-ball linebackers are becoming more and more like the running backs of the defense. Teams draft them on day two every few years, play them a ton of snaps during their rookie contracts, and dispose of them in free agency.

With Jack having a degenerative knee issue working against him and coming off a down year, he’s not guaranteed to be a good player in Pittsburgh. However, we can be hopeful that he will bounce back with an improved defensive line in front of him and a much better overall defense.

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Much like the Eric Ebron signing a few years back, the Steelers may have overpaid a bit for the name rather than the player they are receiving. Let’s hope Myles Jack can revive his career in Pittsburgh.