With what has mostly been an inconsistent defense for the Arizona Cardinals in 2017, there’s one thing that’s been clear all year: Chandler Jones is a force
Five years, $82,500,000, with $51 million guaranteed. Those were the terms of Jones’ contract, according to sportrac.com. Now, in his second year in Arizona, Jones has been worth every penny, as he currently leads the NFL in sacks with 14.
After his performance this past Sunday — 1 sack, 3 tackles for loss and 2 quarterback hits — Jones continues to give opposing offenses a hard time when he’s on the field. Which, for the most part, is every play. On Sunday, against the Titans, Jones was on the field for 60 defensive snaps (100%), according to Pro-Football-Reference.
This season was to feature a dynamic outside pass-rush with he and Markus Golden. Jones has since had to take things into his own hands, as Golden was lost to a season-ending injury earlier this year.
Essentially on his own now, the investment into the 27-year-old Syracuse product has paid huge dividends. Through 13 games this year, Jones has recorded a sack in all but two contests (Week 4 and 11).
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In all, he’s accounted for 49 total tackles, 14 sacks and two forced fumbles. Numbers his Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher surely appreciates. “He’s playing at Defensive Player of the Year level,” he said. He also said Jones brings a “bloody element to the game.”
Strong words from a coordinator who loves to bring pressure and get after opposing quarterbacks.
With 14 sacks on the year, Jones has already surpassed his previous career high of 12.5 in 2015, his final year with the New England Patriots. And since the sack became an official stat in 1982, the Cardinals have never had a player finish the year with the most in the NFL for a single season.
With three games left, he’ll have to keep a steady pace if he wants to be the first player in franchise history to reach that feat. Cowboys’ Demarcus Lawrence (13.5), Vikings’ Everson Griffen (13) and Jaguars’ Calais Campbell (12.5) are trailing closely.
And with his new celebration (the windmill) coming after a nice run-stopping play or a sack, Jones said he’s “just trying to spread some energy across the defense,”
Energy, this defense just hasn’t had all year. But should Jones finish as the sacks leader and possibly an All-Pro, it would bode well for a defensive unit looking for momentum to take in the 2018 season.