Despite zero sacks, Jones’ progress pleases Steelers

Jarvis Jones has yet to record a sack this season.

Considering the Pittsburgh Steelers made him their first-round draft pick in 2013 because of his ability to consistently get to the quarterback while starring at Georgia, Jones’ 2016 season might be considered a disappointment.

Not so, say the Steelers. They feel Jones has made outstanding progress in the first seven games.

“Minus us not having sacks from really our team, period, I feel like he’s definitely playing the run well,” Steelers outside linebackers coach Joey Porter said. “He’s doing some really good things. He’s playing better than he has in the past. I see his game growing.

“But like I tell those guys all the time, we’re in Pittsburgh, we play outside linebacker, we’re going to get judged by production in the sack game. They don’t care about you having nine, 10 tackles, that’s all good.”

Jones is fourth on the team with 27 tackles. He also has two stuffs, two passes defensed and a forced fumble.

Following their bye week, the Steelers (4-3) return to action Sunday when they visit the Baltimore Ravens (3-4). Jones had a strong effort in the Steelers’ previous game, a 27-16 loss to the New England Patriots on Oct. 23, with seven tackles, a quarterback hit and a forced fumble.

Yet Jones knows that he is expected to get sacks. However, he is not the only Steelers defender having problems applying pressure as their average of 1.1 sacks a game is the worst among the 32 NFL teams.

“It’s frustrating as hell,” Jones said. “We had almost 50 sacks last year (48) and now we’ve got eight.

“I felt like the two sacks that I missed in the Patriots game could have been big game-changers, probably could have even won the game for us. It does matter and it (ticks) me off any time we leave a stadium and not get sacks. I know we’re very capable and I know we work extremely hard on the pass rush game, just haven’t hit home for us.”

Jones is seeing the field more than ever, playing 59.5 percent of the Steelers’ defensive snaps — the increase partially due to fellow outside linebacker Bud Dupree being on injured reserve.

While Jones is watching more video than at any point in his career, he believes sacks ultimately are the result of desire.

“We’ve got to win our 1-on-1 battles,” Jones said. “We have to have better technique, just got to get after it. I don’t think we’ve done anything wrong, we just have to be more aware of our rush lanes, we’ve got to work together up front. I think that’s what we got to do. Just got to win, that’s the biggest thing.”

Jones has a lot riding on the last nine games of the regular season — and possibly the postseason, as the Steelers lead the AFC North despite losing their last two games. The Steelers did not exercise the fifth-year option on his rookie contract in May, meaning he will become an unrestricted free agent after this season.

However, Jones makes it clear that his preference is to remain in Pittsburgh.

“They made a decision,” Jones said. “It’s out of my control. I do everything on the positive. I’ll find a way to deal with that kind of stuff.

“Pittsburgh will always be home. They gave me my opportunity. Regardless of where I end up, I love Pittsburgh. It’s a great place. I love everything about the organization, great atmosphere in this locker room. These guys are like my brothers in the locker room and outside the locker room. I can depend on all them. It’s a beautiful place to be.”

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