Confidence has never been an issue for rookie cornerback Jack Jones, and that was on display on Sunday. Jones made his first career start, and played a career high 72 snaps against Aaron Rodgers at Lambeau Field — a daunting task for any first-timer. Yet, the 24-year-old was not rattled in the slightest.
With Jalen Mills sidelined due to a hamstring injury, Jones took advantage of the increased playing time. His contributions were one of the biggest reasons New England was close to ending the Packers’ 14-game winning streak at Lambeau Field.
On a third down with 22 seconds left in the first half, Rodgers fired an out route to Allen Lazard from the far-side hash. Jones, who was tight in man-to-man coverage, jumped the route and had a clear path to the end zone.
“Personally, I feel like it’s disrespectful to throw an out route on me,” Jones said postgame. “If you can throw the ball past me to get to the receiver, I’m no good.”
The aggressive play, and mindset, are nothing new. Jones was often making plays throughout both training camp and the preseason, flashing his strong ball skills in the process.
“I was just reading my keys,” he said of the interception. “He threw it outside, I had a chance to make a play on the ball, and by the blessing of God, I made a play and took it to the house.”
The score handed the Patriots a surprising 10-7 lead over Green Bay entering halftime. The pick-six also marked an extremely rare occurrence, not just being an Aaron Rodgers interception, but just the fourth pick-six he’s thrown during his career and second at Lambeau FIeld.
“I couldn't believe it. Usually, it’s hard to score on defense,” Jones explained. “Just to get a pick is hard on defense. When I got the pick, I'd seen nothing but open field. I just ran. I just kept going.”
It was not the only big play from the rookie on Sunday. On Green Bay’s first drive, Jones was able to punch a ball loose from receiver Romeo Doubs, which he then recovered himself.
“Once he got around me, I tried to make sure he went back inside, but once he got around me I tried to come back around and punch at the ball,” Jones said. “I didn’t get the best punch, but it was good enough to get the ball out so that’s good.”
The playmaking ability and energy are certainly noteworthy additions to the Patriots secondary. While Jones still has a long way to go, noticeably in the run game on Sunday, the play from the 5-foot-11 rookie could open the door for more snaps even when Jalen Mills returns.
“We love that energy,” Jones said. “We make plays and we feed off that energy. That’s what gets us going.”