Since the Jets made a couple of roster moves over the last week or so, we're going to take an in-depth look at the players acquired. We begin today with a look at defensive tackle Chris Jones.
The 27-year old Jones is listed at 6-foot-1 and 295 pounds and was a sixth round pick out of Bowling Green in 2013. He's recorded 102 tackles and nine sacks in his career so far, mostly with New England in 2013 and 2014.
Jones was unable to get a scholarship with a top school but ended up going to Bowling Green where he was an all-American and the 2012 MAC Defensive Player of the Year.
Jones racked up 28 career sacks, including 8.5 in his junior year and 12.5 in his senior year. He also racked up 155 tackles over four years with a career-high of 47 in his junior year.
Jones attended the scouting combine and was drafted by the Texans in the sixth round. However, he failed to make their roster and was released in final cuts. After a brief stint with the Bucs, Jones ended up with New England where he broke out with a 54 tackle and six-sack rookie campaign.
He played a big role in 2014 as well, although his numbers were less impressive with 25 tackles and three sacks. The Patriots won the Super Bowl with Jones playing despite a torn calf muscle. That injury sidelined him for the entire 2015 season.
In 2016, he started off with Miami in a reserve role but was released halfway through the season. The 49ers picked him up and he started six games for them, with a total of 21 tackles and no sacks in his 13 appearances overall. He remained with San Francisco but missed the entire 2017 season on injured reserve.
Let's take a closer look at what Jones brings to the table, divided into categories. In the gifs included in this article, Jones was wearing #94 with New England, #93 with the 49ers and #52 with Miami.
Jones is a little undersized, as you can see. He posted good numbers for strength and agility at the scouting combine but ran a slow 40 time:
He posted slightly above average numbers for vertical and broad jump at his pro day.
Jones has lined up all over the defensive line during his career, albeit mostly as a conventional 3-4 end or 4-3 tackle. However, he has played from time to time as a nose tackle or off the edge.
Jones is regarded as a high energy player who gives a constant effort in the trenches and in pursuit. He's capable of handling a big workload, playing over 900 snaps in his rookie year, including 90 in one game.
Here's a good example of that attitude as he whiffs on a sack but gets back into the play to bat down a pass:
Jones has been a productive run defender over the years, but hasn't graded out particularly well. In his rookie year, which was the one in which he saw the most playing time, Jones had the worst run defense grade of any interior defender in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus.
Jones displays some quickness and explosiveness here as he shoots a gap to blow up a run in the backfield:
However, on this play, he gets blocked to the ground at the point of attack:
As noted, Jones gives a good effort in pursuit, but he lacks the footspeed to have any kind of range.
As a pass rusher, Jones had some success in his rookie year with six sacks and then added three more in 2014. However, he doesn't have any sacks since then - missing two of the next three years entirely. In fact, he had five sacks in his first five games and just four in 36 since then.
This production is not entirely surprising given how productive he was in college. Posting a double-digit sack season as a defensive tackle at any level is impressive and Jones had 21 sacks over his last two years.
However, at the NFL level, he's done most of his damage cleaning up when the quarterback steps up to avoid pressure off the edge and he hasn't generated a great deal of pressure himself.
Here's a good play though, which sees him split a double team to get to the quarterback for a sack:
This is his only sack since 2014 as he bullrushes the left guard off his spot to collapse the pocket in a 2016 preseason game:
Jones can spin off a block or use a swim technique to get around his blocker, but often just ends up being stoned by a double team or single blocker and not offering much resistance.
Jones doesn't have the prototypical length, but battles hard in the trenches to keep his hands free and benefits from a strong initial punch out of his stance and a low center of gravity.
On this play, he gets some traction upfield and then sheds the block to get in on the run stuff:
His pad level can let him down at times, including on this play where he gets blocked to the ground:
Jones racked up over half of his 102 career tackles in his rookie year with New England. A lot of that production came from simply bottling up runs to get in on the tackle.
He hasn't had major problems with missed tackles over the course of his career but elusive players will be able to slip past him in space.
Jones has hardly ever dropped into coverage at the pro level and never been targeted in a coverage situation. He has been credited with just one pass defensed which was in one of the earlier gifs.
Here's another batted pass from training camp last year:
Many Jets fans might remember Jones for his "PushGate" penalty in the 2013 game between the Jets and Patriots. Nick Folk missed a potential game winning field goal but Jones was penalized for shoving his teammate into the offensive line to disrupt the kick. The penalty gave the Jets a first down and moved them closer so that Folk got a second chance and won the game a few plays later.
In the following season, the Pats beat the Jets by two as Jones atoned by blocking another potential Folk game-winner as time ran out:
Jones has also blocked two extra points, showing a knack for being able to penetrate aggressively.
In preseason last year, he was also employed as a blocker on the kick return unit, but did not fare well in that role.
Jones was regarded as a player with good instincts coming out of college and it's telling that he was almost immediately able to establish himself as a contributor for Bill Belichick's Patriots.
He doesn't appear to blow many assignments and jumped offside just once in regular season action and once in preseason. However, he did admit he didn't know the rule which led to the PushGate scenario.
Jones' work-ethic and effort levels have been universally praised wherever he has played. He's been described as relentless and hard-working and has no red flags off the field.
He was a two-time team captain at Bowling Green.
Jones has spent two of the last three seasons on injured reserve with a torn calf in 2015 and an undisclosed injury in 2017. It's believed that was a calf injury as well.
Jones was bothered by an ankle issue at the scouting combine and another ankle issue caused him to miss some time at the start of the 2014 season. He had elbow problems later that year.
The Jets have plenty of depth on the defensive line but Todd Bowles has been saying that the team will use more players in their defensive line rotation this year to keep everyone fresh. With his experience, Jones could be a good option if one or more of the rookies is slow to develop or someone gets hurt.
Players Jones has been a teammate of include Xavier Cooper, who is one of the people he'll be competing for a roster spot against.
Jones gives the Jets another veteran presence in their defensive line group, but the team is probably hoping their younger players step up and win a prominent role. However, his relentless work ethic should make for some good competition.
This signing probably has a lot to do with Mike Maccagnan, who was involved when the Texans drafted Jones back in 2013. Maccagnan's own comments - from the Texans' official website - give a good summary of what to expect:
I didn’t necessarily make this school call. I did actually see him play this fall and evaluated him on tape. The thing that really stood out to me when I watched him was he was at the end of the day just a really good football player at that level. He’s very instinctive, a very good technician, a high-, high-energy, high-effort, high-motor player. He’s not your prototypical height weight, per se. He’s maybe a tad shorter stature, but he plays with very good leverage, very good hand use. When you watch him, the instincts really show up combined with the motor, and he competes so that he makes plays inside the tackle box, outside the tackle box. He was an extremely productive pass rusher as an interior lineman. Usually, the guys getting lots of sacks tend to be on the outside, but this guy’s actually playing inside. He was a very, very, very productive player in college, and some of the things he does well, you would think would translate to the next level also. It’ll be interesting to see how he does when we obviously put the pads on and get to training camp, but (he’s) a guy that’s made a very positive impression so far, and a guy that when we’re sitting there looking at potential guys later in the draft, it’s the type of guy you go through this process and you sort of see guys in the back of your head, you’re going, ‘I hope it works out where we get him somewhere in the draft and add him to our mix.’”