Chandler Jones in Cardinal red. That is going to take some time to sink in all the way. In a move that surprised many fans, including myself, the Arizona Cardinals traded G Jonathan Cooper and their 2016 2nd round pick for the 4-year veteran. Cardinals GM Steve Keim has made a name for himself by signing veteran players to one year deals and getting every ounce of remaining productivity out of them. To his credit, this has proven to be an effective method thus far. However, I think the organization has been looking for a younger player who can endure the rigors of a regular season, as well as a playoff run, for some time. Therefore, the acquisition of Jones certainly fits the bill.
While I initially questioned the move, the trade was likely a financial decision, due in part to the Patriots’ need to sign other players from their young defense. There has also been speculation that Jones would likely hit the free agency market after 2016, so the trade was beneficial for both sides. For the Cardinals, they can choose to sign Jones to a long term deal at the end of the season, or this could turn into a different type of 1-year deal for Keim and the Cardinals altogether.
Keeping up with the Joneses
The Jones family is no stranger to stardom. Chandler is the youngest of three brothers. His oldest brother, Arthur, is a defensive tackle, currently with the Colts. He also played for the Ravens from 2010-2013, which included a Super Bowl victory in 2012. His other older brother is renowned UFC fighter and former light heavyweight champion, Jon “Bones” Jones. So when Chandler’s name was called in the 1st round of the 2012 draft, he was fully prepared to join his brothers in the spotlight.
While Jones has been a follower of the “Patriot Way”, he did have a particularly embarrassing off-the-field issue. In January, Jones was hospitalized after he had a bad reaction to synthetic marijuana. Although, the exact details of the event may remain unknown, the team didn’t feel the need to institute a punishment. Some fans may look at the trade as a way of booting a troubled player that couldn’t abide by the Patriots strict rules. However, this will likely remain an isolated incident, as Jones will now be surrounded by incredible leaders and teammates in Fitzgerald, Peterson, Palmer and Mathieu.
By the Numbers
While Chandler Jones is far from being called a potential Hall of Famer, his numbers look fairly similar to some of the game’s greats through their first four years. Strahan and Hali didn’t have double digit sacks until their 5th year in the league. Although, initially the sacks weren’t there for either Strahan or Hali, they were still important factors when bringing down the ball carrier. On the other hand, Jared Allen was a sack monster and played in all but 3 games, he still averaged out near the same with Allen.
What to Expect
Chandler Jones still carries the DE designation, although, he also was routinely used as an outside linebacker for the Patriots in 3-4 packages. The Cardinals have already listed Jones as an outside linebacker on their depth chart since they run a 3-4 style defense. Despite missing 6 games due to injury in 2014, Jones still finished the year with 93 fantasy points or 10.3 per game. In 2015, Jones improved upon those overall numbers, totaling 148 points or 9.8 per game, which was good for the 6th best defensive end, using IDP360 scoring. However, in 2016, Jones will have to learn a new playbook, but this shouldn’t pose a huge threat due to the complex designs that New England ran throughout his tenure. In my view, by adding Jones to a defensive line that features Calais Campbell is going to spell trouble for opposing offensive lineman and their quarterbacks.
The Wrap Up
Although, it remains too be seen whether Jones will continue to don a Cardinal’s jersey after the 2016 season, it is clear that he was brought in to help a team in “win now” mode. Even though Jones didn’t have the biggest impact for the Patriots this past postseason, he does have experience on the big stage. All too often players will get knocked for not being able to play in prime time. Therefore, with 9 postseason games, including a Super Bowl championship in 2014, under his belt, this won’t be a concern for Jones. If the Cardinals are able to replicate their results from 2015, there is a very good chance that Jones could find himself representing the NFC in Super Bowl 51. In the meantime, Jones can enjoy playing against his former team when they visit the desert in their regular season showdown.
Thanks for reading. You can find me on Twitter @DynastyZach.