Chandler Jones has established himself as one of the premier pass-rushers in the NFL since arriving in the league from Syracuse University in 2012. He was a standout with the Orange during his college career and his talent was noted by Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots.
The Patriots selected him in the first round of the 2012 Draft with the 21st selection. Jones was a late riser up the boards as his production for Syracuse did not quite match up with potential. He notched 10 sacks in three years at the Carrier Dome, which were inferior statistics to other talented players available in the selection process.
However, he proved Belichick and the Patriots were correct in their investment, albeit his best seasons have come elsewhere at the Arizona Cardinals. At the age of 30, questions now will be posed whether Jones has done enough to become a Hall of Famer. He certainly has been one of the most fearsome pass-rushers of the era. But is that success enough?
Solid If Unspectacular
Jones enjoyed the perfect start to his career at the Patriots. There were lofty expectations and he starred on debut with a strip-sack of Jake Locker, allowing team-mate Dont’a Hightower to record a simple score against the Tennessee Titans. He notched a solid six sacks and was named in the 2012 All-Rookie Team. He kicked on in the following year, breaking double figures for his sack total, leading the Patriots with 11.5 on the season.
However, Jones failed to make a significant impact in their run to the AFC Championship Game. Injury blighted his 2014 season, although he did return for the Patriots’ Super Bowl run, notching a sack of Russell Wilson in their win over the Seattle Seahawks. Jones raised the bar in the 2015 campaign, recording a career-high 12.5 sacks, although an off-the-field incident before a playoff game was the beginning of the end of his tenure in New England.
Jones was productive for Belichick, although one of the accusations laid against was that he tailed off dramatically towards the end of seasons. He was largely ineffective during the playoffs, collating only two sacks in nine games. Instead of paying the defensive end a top-market deal, Belichick opted to trade him for a second-round pick in the 2016 Draft. The Patriots did not look back and added a further two Vince Lombardi Trophies to their collection since Jones’ departure.
A Dominant Force
Jones has become a fearsome pass-rusher in Arizona, although the Cardinals have not enjoyed the success he may have anticipated when he arrived at the franchise. The 2020 season could be different as Kliff Kingsbury’s men could be a surprise package in the NFC West with plenty of star power.
Kyler Murray, DeAndre Hopkins, Patrick Peterson along with Jones are elite talents. It could be worth monitoring their odds among the leading NFL betting sites for a run at the divisional crown. Jones enjoyed the best season of his career last term, totaling 19 sacks on the season – taking his tally for his career to 96. He is only four away from joining an elite club of pass-rusher to have recorded over 100 sacks in their NFL careers. At this point, it’s a matter of when not if.
It’s a milestone that would appeal to the Hall of Famer voters to ensure that Jones has a gold jacket in the future. Jones has thrived in a different role since joining the Cardinals. He has moved to outside linebacker, easing the burden of having to set the edge in the running game. Instead the 30-year-old can focus on pursuing opposing quarterbacks.
Jones has notched 60 sacks in four seasons in Arizona, earning two First-Team All-Pro berths along with two further Pro Bowl appearances. He was also named in the NFL 2010s All-Decade Team as an outside linebacker in the company of Von Miller and Khalil Mack. Other than missing out on two Super Bowl triumphs – his move to the Cardinals has gone smoothly for Jones. Not a lot of players can say that after leaving Foxborough.
Has Jones Done Enough?
The 30-year-old is certainly on the path towards a Hall of Fame berth, but he might need to press over the 100-sack mark and beyond along with earning a few more accolades. Making a lasting impression in the post-season will also be useful, which has been his one glaring weakness in his career. He faces an important few seasons to prove that he belongs in Canton.