Former New England Patriots edge defender Chandler Jones is excited to face off against his old team in week 1 of the 2016 season. The new Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker has circled the game with a red marker and is expected to be mic'd up.
Players in the NFL have also ranked him the 48th best player in the NFL for 2016.
Oh boy. I have a few thoughts on this.
First, I'm super excited to see Jones mic'd up because he's hilarious. He's the defensive Rob Gronkowski on the mic and he's loving life on the field. Watching fellow former Patriots defensive lineman Dominique Easley stare off into the distance as he tunes out Jones' incessant chattering will never, ever, ever get old.
Second, Colts punter Pat McAfee is hilarious. Just watch the intro to the video when he talks about the Jones brothers- remember that all three Jones brothers have been World Champions in their sports in the past few years.
Third, Chandler Jones is a great player. Just read what Washington left tackle Trent Williams had to say.
"I think he's probably the most improved player this year," Washington left tackle Trent Williams said. "The guy was always good, but he's had the type of a season where he could be easily nominated as the defensive MVP.
"He's an outstanding player, outstanding talent, he's continuing to grow and I think he's going to terrorize this league for a long time."
At his peak, Jones is one of the top ten most complete edge defenders in the entire league. Physically, he is one of the most impressive and athletic players on the field.
The issue was with his consistency and that his peak was always fleeting.
Over the course of his four season career, Jones has racked up 36 regular season sacks. He averages 0.85 sacks per game in September and October, but that cuts in half to 0.42 sacks per game in November and December.
We need to note that Rob Ninkovich has averaged 0.5 sacks per game over that same four years, so Jones at his lowest is still a good pass rusher- but no one would confuse Ninkovich for an NFL defensive MVP.
Jones is still just 26 years old, so there's time for him to pull together and become a consistent threat on the edge, but the Patriots knew that potential wouldn't be realized in New England. After holding down the Patriots starting defensive end position for the majority of four seasons, head coach Bill Belichick opted to move forward with the more consistent Ninkovich and Jabaal Sheard.
"[The Patriots are] going to miss him," Texans cornerback Charles James II added in the video (why he was interviewed to discuss Jones, I do not know).
That much is true. You don't remove a high caliber player like Jones and expect to be better- and the Patriots lost their two most impactful defensive pass rushers in Jones and Easley this offseason. Opposing passing attacks saw their yards per play drop from 6.45 to 5.60 when Jones was on the field, the largest drop with any individual Patriots defender.
Factor in Jones' more-than-adequate run defense and Sheard will have his hands full as the replacement starter. But I don't know if Jones is a top 50 caliber player in the NFL at this point in time.
I should also note that wide receiver Julian Edelman remains the only current member of the Patriots to have made the Top 100 list thus far. The top 40 players remain to be announced, but I question how likely it will be that linebackers Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower, or safeties Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty, or cornerback Malcolm Butler are that well-regarded around the league.
I would say that it's likely that quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski- who are top 10 locks- and maybe one more member of the Patriots make the list. My money would be on Collins or Butler making the top 40.