After four NFL seasons, former New England Patriots first-round pick Chandler Jones is finally ready to embrace his role as a pure pass rusher. And that can only mean good things for the Arizona Cardinals, who acquired him prior to the 2016 NFL Draft.
36 sacks over the first four seasons of his NFL career has helped establish Chandler Jones as one of the better pure pass rushers in the league. However, up until now, Jones has relentlessly tried to fight that label, insisting that he’s a quality all-around defender.
A Pro Bowl appearance in 2015 would help substantiate Jones’ claim, but his desires aside, that role is poised to change in 2016.
Now a member of the Arizona Cardinals, who shipped guard Jonathan Cooper and a second-round pick to the Patriots in exchange for him, Jones will be turned to for one reason and one reason alone: to get to the quarterback.
Speaking to Arizona Sports 98.7 FM on Wednesday, Jones continued to insist he can serve as an all-around defender, but is willing to accept the role of sheer pass rusher if that’s what his new coaches desire.
“I never want to be labeled as a pass rusher,” Jones said. “As a defensive end, you want to be an all-around player. You want to be known to stop the run, set the edge, get the quarterback, get the pressures, get the hurries.
“But they brought me here to rush the passer, and that’s what I’m going to do. I’m excited for that challenge, for sure.”
As a pass rusher, Jones has excelled in recent years. And while his run defense has been suspect, Pro Football Focus points out that his 62 pressures in 2015 were more than any Cardinal since John Abraham back in 2013. Additionally, his 36 sacks over the last four seasons rank 11th-best in the league.
This isn’t to say Jones will be used situationally — he’s a bona fide starter — but the plan moving forward for the Cardinals is clear. They need another solid pass rusher to couple with Markus Golden on the outside and now they’ve got it.
“I think Coach Arians and Mr. Keim, they knew what they were getting when they decided to trade for me,” Jones said. “I’m a pass rusher, and I’m labeled as a pass rusher.”
Jones has one year remaining on his current contract and if he desires to be re-signed, will need to not only produce on the field, but prove to the franchise he’s over the off-field issues that led to his trade in the first place.