Sunday, August 10, 2014

Typical Preseason Opener

Sloppy, ragged, erratic and featuring players who won't be in the NFL on opening day, last night's glorified practice before 74,611 paying customers at MetLife Stadium was a drab mess. Ben Roethlisberger (1-2 passing) barely played, and Eli Manning didn't complete either of his two pass attempts.

The lone highlights of "consequence" for the Steelers were Dri Archer's 43-yard sprint with a screen pass on the opening series and Jarvis Jones's eight-yard sack of Manning.

Jarvis Jones sacks Eli Manning
We expect to see more of that sort of dash from Archer. As for Jones, it was good to get his first sack of calendar year 2014 out of the way. Nobody in authority in the Steelers' organization has said anything particularly derogatory about Jones's work during training camp, but nobody has said anything particularly noteworthy either.

The underlying current of thought is this: Jones can say all the right things, demonstrate that he works hard and show that he has a great attitude -- but he has to produce results on the field. He must prove he can make tackles and sack the quarterback.

As Craig Wolfley and Tunch Ilkin have said repeatedly about Jones: "Chuck Noll used to say, 'Don't give me somebody who's around the ball. I want a guy who's on the ball.'"

Jones also must show he is stronger, quicker and has better moves and technique than he showed last year.

On last night's pre-game radio show, Wolfley said, "I want to see Jones sack the quarterback. He's got to show he can do it on the field, not just want to do it. We saw flashes of that last preseason. But, then, during the regular season, next to nothing."

That's why it was encouraging to see Jones sack Manning. Now we need to see that sort of play consistently.

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