Sports Columns

July 6, 2013

Loran Smith: Jones fits in Pittsburgh

Jarvis Jones shows up every day with an appreciation for the work ethic for which blue collar Pittsburgh is known. Playing for one of pro football’s most successful franchises has already motivated Jarvis to help the Steelers add another Lombardi Trophy. Six are lined up in the lobby of the second floor of the Steeler complex — an imposing athletic building that is understated by the backdrop of the Monongahela River.

More than one team, including the Steelers, led Jarvis to believe that if he were available when it came their time to pick on draft day that they would be calling out his name. There was a big difference with the Steelers, however — he felt that they meant it.

He grew up a Falcons fan, but the more he learned about the Pitts-burgh modus operandi, the more he developed a deep and abiding passion to wind up on the roster of the team that flaunts the terrible towel.

Jarvisspeak is laced with humble and grateful offerings. You can tell his goals and ambitions are not without feelings of appreciation.

He is sincere with his preachments, reflecting humility and gratefulness.

Georgia’s 3-4 system under Coach (Todd) Grantham was very helpful for me and my pro career at Pittsburgh. There may be more to do here and it may be more complex, but what I learned at Georgia has given me an advantage with the Steelers. To begin with, I am playing for a first-class organization. They expect to compete for the Super Bowl every year. The Steelers have won more Super Bowls than any NFL team, and they expect to win more.

This is an exciting city, but it is different. Everywhere you go there is a bridge or tunnel. Every Sunday, I go up to Mount Washington to a pier and look down at the city. You see the three rivers and all the buildings, PNC Park, and Heinz Field. I can’t wait to experience the atmosphere on game day.

The winning tradition here is something you appreciate, but also in my case, there is a linebacker tradition in Pittsburgh. You have a lot to live up to when you think about their great linebackers over the years.

Just like it was at Georgia with Coach Grantham, our D-coordinator here, Dick LeBeau, is very knowledgeable about the 3-4 defense, and he knows how to teach it. He is a very good communicator, and the players appreciate him and his style. It is fun to come to practice and learn something new from him every day. One thing different is that I will be playing right outside linebacker with the Steelers. At Georgia, I flopped, depending on what the offense was doing.

LeBeau had watched hours of tape on Jarvis and concluded early on that the Georgia linebacker had the skills and mindset for what the Steeler defensive coaches prefer. They thought his attitude was ideal for their system, too, but confirmation came quickly as Jarvis was eager to learn and to fit in with team concepts, methods and attitude.

 “Jarvis,” says LeBeau, “came in here with a no-nonsense, ‘I’m ready to work’ attitude. All along I felt that he would be a good fit for us and that we are a good fit for him. I am confident that he will have a fine NFL career. He makes plays and he has the kind of attitude to succeed and improve.”

Georgia remains on Jarvis’s mind as he compliments his Bulldog coaches for helping him make the transition to the NFL. “I still have a lot to learn,” he says, “but it is nice to be familiar with the system when you get here.” A statistic that the Steelers take note of is that Jarvis led the SEC and NCAA last year in tackles for loss with 24.5. “It was a great day for us,” LeBeau said, “that he was available when it was our turn to pick.”

Loran Smith is a contributing columnist for The Daily Citizen. You can write to him at loransmith@sports.uga.edu.

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