The New England Patriots fielded the NFL’s best secondary in 2019. But while players such as Stephon Gilmore or Devin McCourty made most of the headlines, slot cornerback Jonathan Jones was no less important to the operation: appearing in 15 of 16 regular season games and the team’s lone playoff contest, the former undrafted rookie proved himself one of the best inside coverage defenders in all of football.
As such, he was recently named among the most underappreciated players in the game today by NFL.com’s Cynthia Frelund:
Passes thrown to middle-of-the-field targets (between the numbers) while Jones was in coverage resulted in incompletions at the fifth-highest rate among corners in the NFL last season, per my computer vision. His lack of interceptions is not an accurate indicator of his efficiency in coverage, as spatial measuring shows that his impact in both the passing and rushing phases of the game helps stop opponents’ drives. Jones has the highest run-stopping contribution metric among corners in the entire AFC East — yes, part of that is attributed to where he lines up. But it just goes to show that — surprise, surprise — New England has been deploying Jones in a smart and effective way.
Before the 2019 season started, Jones and the Patriots agreed to a three-year, $21 million contract extension that will keep him in New England through 2022. He is therefore expected to play a sizable role in the team’s defensive backfield this season and beyond.