The New England Patriots are officially 95 days away from kicking off their 2019 season. New England’s two-decade run of dominance is unparalleled in sports, and it’s strange to think that the Patriots went a full decade between winning championships. While he wasn’t around for New England’s two most recent championships, defensive end Chandler Jones was a big reason the Patriots broke their 10-year championship drought back in 2014.
Chandler Jones: 95 Days to Kickoff
Life Before New England
Jones was born in Rochester, New York on February 20, 1990. Playing football for Union-Endicott High School, Jones finished his high school tenure as New York’s eighth-best prospect, per Scout.com. Jones entered the college football landscape as a two-star prospect and eventually signed with Syracuse University.
Jones didn’t play as a freshman but made a big impact during his next three years at Syracuse. Appearing in a grand total of 32 games, Jones finished his collegiate career with 147 tackles, 27 tackles-for-loss, 10 sacks, and one interception. Jones best season likely came as a Senior when he recorded 38 tackles, 7.5 tackles-for-loss, and 4.5 sacks in just seven games.
Jones had impressive game film, but he saw his draft stock rise during the NFL Combine. His arm length was one of the best in his class while his three-cone, height, broad jump, and vertical jump all tested within the 74th percentile at the position. There was no doubt that Chandler Jones had a bright NFL future, the only question was where he would land.
Life in New England
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is notorious for trading down in the NFL Draft, but the coaching legend made an exception for Chandler Jones. New England traded up from the 27th pick to select Jones 21st overall.
The Chandler Jones selection immediately paid off during his first professional game. Earning the start against the Tennessee Titans, Jones was part of a defensive line which limited then-superstar running back Chris Johnson to just four total rushing yards. Jones also had the play of the game, strip-sacking quarterback Jake Locker which fellow rookie Dont’a Hightower recovered and returned for a touchdown.
Jones appeared in 14 games as a rookie, recording six sacks, three forced fumbles, 12 quarterback hits, and 45 tackles. His rookie performance was one of the best by a defensive lineman in the Belichick era, and he only built on that strong rookie season with an even better 2013. Appearing in all 16 games, Jones recorded 11.5 sacks, 83 tackles, one forced fumble, and 23 quarterback hits.
In total, Jones spent four years with the New England Patriots. During his time in New England, the first-round pick recorded 36 sacks, 222 tackles, 64 quarterback hits, and 10 forced fumbles. He played a massive role in each of his four seasons with the team and was a major contributor to the 2014 Super Bowl champions.
Unfortunately, Jones’ Patriots tenure ended on something of a low note. In the days leading up to the 2015 AFC Divisional Round, Jones had a bad reaction to synthetic marijuana. According to reports, a shirtless Jones arrived at the Foxboro Police Station in the midst of his bad reaction. Jones started both games following the incident, but his time with the team soon came to an end.
Life After New England
Prior to the start of the 2016 season, the New England Patriots traded Jones to the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for guard Jonathan Cooper and a 2016 second-round pick. While Cooper flamed out in New England, that second-round pick turned into starting guard Joe Thuney and Super Bowl LI hero Malcolm Mitchell.
Jones signed a massive contract extension with the Cardinals and immediately showed that it was a good investment. Appearing in all 16 games, Jones finished his first season in Arizona with 11 sacks, 49 tackles, and 21 quarterback hits. Most notably, Jones recorded a strip sack against his former team in Week One of the 2016 season.
Jones had the best season of his career in 2017. Appearing in all 16 games for the second straight season, Jones recorded 17 sacks, 58 tackles, 28 tackles-for-loss, 33 quarterback hits, and two forced fumbles. His sacks and tackles-for-loss led the league, and the Syracuse product earned First-Team All-Pro honors for his fantastic season.
Throughout the course of his seven-year career, Jones has recorded 77 sacks, 136 quarterback hits, 378 tackles, and 94 tackles-for-loss in 103 career games. Since entering the league, only Von Miller and J.J. Watt have recorded more sacks than New England’s former first-round pick.
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