(AP Photo/Gene J.Puskar)
Since Jacoby Jones arrived in Pittsburgh 16 days ago to replace kick returner Dri Archer, who was released the same day the Steelers claimed Jones off of waivers from the San Diego Chargers, he hasn’t exactly been delivering the performance Steelers special teams coach Danny Smith was hoping for.
Although there has been a lack of performance with the return game with Jones , Danny Smith doesn’t seem too concerned right now. However, a lot of Steelers fans around the country clinch their fists and their hearts drop every time Jones takes the field for a return and there’s a good reason why. The first game Jones played in for the Steelers, his returns were a bit sloppy, he almost fumbled several times, and he tended to run with the ball exposed in one hand, not a wise decision when it comes to ball safety. Still, most thought it was because Jones hadn’t had any practice time with the team before taking the field that week; so most fans were willing to cut him some slack and hope for a better return game after having some practice time with the team. Unfortunately, the next game he didn’t prove to be much better. Besides the fact the Jones was not getting anywhere with yards, he also dropped two catches, one bounced out-of-bounds and the other he landed on and recovered, thankfully.
The mishaps didn’t go unnoticed by Danny Smith, who made Jones have extra catching time with the ball machine during Tuesday’s practice. Smith and Jones both feel that the problems Jones is having can be blamed on his overeagerness .
Plenty goes into setting up returns, between the combination of blocks, to how they’re set up, to their timing and that can all be undone by the simple act of Jones failing to catch the ball.
Besides overeagerness , Jones may be struggling because he simply hasn’t adjusted yet to having to move across country two different times this season and being tossed around from team to team; which I am sure is mentally draining as well. Still, the Steelers need to evaluate where they stand with Jacoby Jones and if he really is the best decision for the Steelers sub par return game; there is a reason Jones has been cut from two different teams in the last year, lack of performance on the field or poor ball protection perhaps?
At the end of the day, the Steelers cannot risk to lose anymore games this season. It has been a rough season between major injuries and suspensions, yet they have managed to stay in the hunt for the playoffs. The last thing the Steelers can afford is to be playing a crucial close game and then have Jones fumbles the ball near the opponent’s end-zone, it could be the difference between a win or a loss and a playoff spot or the end of the season. So Danny Smith needs to evaluate all the options he has available to him, including Antonio Brown, and make the decision whether to keep Jones or let him go within the next game or two. Jacoby Jones performance next week could either keep him playing in the NFL for the Steelers or once again send him packing.
I would love to hear the fans thoughts on Jacoby Jones and their opinions on whether he should stay or go.