For this week’s amateur adventures in film I decided to take a look at the Arizona Cardinals’ Chandler Jones whilst I still could as the Cardinals will not be making the playoffs and Jones currently leads the league in sacks with fifteen
Last week the Cardinals shut out the New York Giants and with their struggling offensive line you would have thought that this would have been a good game for Jones to showcase his talents but slightly surprisingly he finished this game with two tackles, a pass deflected, and no sacks or quarterback hits.
However, the reason for this was mainly that Eli Manning was getting rid of the ball quickly rather than Jones not making a difference.
In fact Jones could also be held up as an example of the flexibility of modern defences as he played as an edge player whether the defence was lined up in its base 3-4 or from nickel and although he spent most of his time standing up when on the four man defensive lines, he did play from a three point stance for certain snaps whilst switched between the left and right sides of the defence. He did spend the majority of his time on the right side of the defence although he took a snap standing in between the guard and centre of the offence as well as many on the left side of the defence.
Occasionally Jones would drop into zone coverage and on one play did pick up a tight end and follow them in man coverage, but for the most part he either played run contain, sealing the edge of the defence, or rushed the passer. He was effective at doing both of these, but one of the problems you have in rushing the passer from the edge is that you have to be phenomenally quick to get round an offensive tackle and to the quarterback without being pushed up the field and past the quarterback. In this game he couldn’t quite get round the tackle to get to Manning who had the space to step up and make quick of often incomplete throws. That’s not to say that Jones didn’t affect the game, he ran stunts and used power rushes effectively as well as being around the quarterback for the two sacks the Cardinals did get on Manning.
However, for a league sack leader it was the other parts of his game that impressed me as he played every snap for the defence, demonstrated his flexibility, and was not a liability when dropping into coverage even if he did slip doing this on one play. He may not have looked like everyone’s idea of a pass rusher in this particular game, but he was still effective and that should not be sniffed at in a game where the matchup apparently didn’t favour him. I may well take a look at more of his games at some point in the future as I’m definitely intrigued and I do wonder about Bill Belichick trading him to the Cardinals given the New England Patriots’ currently rank last in the NFL by DVOA but that’s another kind of conversation.