Steelers Film Room: Myles Jack - The Defensive X-Factor
In his return to Jacksonville on Saturday, linebacker Myles Jack showed why the Pittsburgh Steelers were anxious to add him to their defensive unit.
One of the many reasons why Jack has been productive throughout his career is due to his unique combination of physicality, finesse, and high football IQ. In other words, Jack carries the athleticism of a Will linebacker with the playmaking abilities of a Sam linebacker. Against the Jaguars, his playmaking abilities were on full display.
Often, when we talk about a football player with ball skills, we generally associate it with defensive backs or receivers. Ball skills can also apply to linebackers in relation to their ability to track where the ball is going and be in the right spot to make a play. What we have seen from Jack in his first two preseason games is how well he uses his instincts to track and make
plays on the ball.
In this sequence, Mack is seen aligned as the inside linebacker on the left side. Notice that while the ball is snapped, Jack always has his eyes on the ball while the Jaguars execute the zone blocking sequence. As Jaguars running back Travis Etienne Jr. tries to cut back inside, he is met by defensive back Terrell Edmunds coming from the outside and Jack from the inside; the result is a loss on the play. As impressive as his tracking skills were in this sequence, his patience was key as he engaged at the right time to make the stop.
Disengaging From Blocks
When opposing offensive linemen climb the second level to engage with an interior linebacker, it is essential that the linebacker in question is able to effectively disengage from blocks so they can effectively read the play. One of Jack's many strengths is his ability to extend and get separation in these instances.
In this sequence, Jack is seen aligned as the interior linebacker on the outside, but notice how he is only a few yards from the opposing Jaguars guard. When the ball is snapped, the Jaguars guard climbs the second level and engages with the Jack. Notice how he is able to extend, get separation, and shed the opposing lineman to get to the ball carrier. Considering how the defensive line was being pushed back, this could have resulted in a considerable gain had Jack not made this play.
Jack would finish the game with four total tackles, yet was arguably the most efficient Steelers defender on the field, with the exception of All-Pro edge rusher T.J. Watt. From what we have seen so far, Jack is the type of x-factor on defense they have been waiting for. He is the type of player that can exponentially improve the team's ailing run defense while making everyone around him better.