After rarely seeing the field outside of special teams as a rookie, Jonathan Jones is blossoming into quite the defender for the New England Patriots.
The second-year pro has flourished since assuming the role as New England’s No. 3 cornerback, and he turned in another highly productive performance Sunday in a 35-17 win over the Miami Dolphins.
Playing 85.2 percent of the Patriots’ defensive snaps, Jones racked up a career-high nine tackles (tied with safety Patrick Chung for most on the team) and notched his first career sack while allowing just 46 receiving yards on five catches.
The fact that Jones spent much of the game matched up against stud slot receiver Jarvis Landry and still posted those impressive stats certainly is noteworthy. But since the Auburn product’s coverage skills quickly are becoming old news, Patriots coach Bill Belichick instead was asked Monday morning to dissect Jones’ sack of Matt Moore, which came late in the fourth quarter.
Belichick, who has not been shy about praising Jones this season, happily obliged.
“I thought Jon made a real good play on that,” Belichick said in a conference call. “He did an excellent job of breaking down and making the play. A lot of times when players come free like that, whether it’s a corner or secondary players, or sometimes linebackers, they just want to go in there and go for the big hit, and then the quarterback sees him at the last second, and they go right by and miss him. The most important thing is to get the quarterback, get him down, and Jon did a good job of that.”
On the play in question, Jones lined up opposite Landry in the slot, then sprinted untouched into the backfield on a corner blitz. Moore tried to spin away but only wound up losing more yardage, and Jones took him to the ground for a 15-yard sack. It was the first sack by a Patriots defensive back this season and the sixth of a season-high seven New England recorded in the game.
“It’s not a hard play, but you have to be disciplined,” Belichick said. “I would say sometimes, maybe, work a little bit differently than your instinct, which is just to go in there 100 miles per hour and make a hit. That doesn’t always work, because if the quarterback sees you at the last second, you miss him.”
Belichick went on to explain how Jones’ proficiency on special teams — he’s served as a gunner on New England’s punt team for the past two seasons — gave him a distinct advantage in that situation.
“It’s similar to — for Jon Jones — similar to covering a punt where you’re down there going full speed at the returner, and if you time it up right, you can make the hit just as he catches the ball,” the coach said. “But there’s a little bit of a timing element there. If the returner has good quickness and can see it and just take a side step, then you miss him, and then he’s off into the return. I wouldn’t say it’s the hardest play, but it certainly takes some discipline and concentration, and you’ve got to do it right, or most quarterbacks can make you look bad.”
Moore, a career backup, doesn’t possess the mobility to embarrass many defenders. Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor does, however, meaning Patriots pass rushers will need to be particularly disciplined when New England and Buffalo square off this Sunday.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images
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