By David Austin Bumpus 11/15/15
The New England Patriots’ defense has surprised many this season after losing key players this past offseason, and defensive end Chandler Jones has turned into the team’s main source of success on the line.
Jones leads all players with 9.5 sacks, and could come close to the franchise season sack record currently held by Andre Tippett, who recorded 18.5 sacks in 1984. Jones would have to increase his pace to come close to the NFL single season record for sacks, which is currently held by Michael Strahan and his 22.5 sacks in 2001.
New England is second in the NFL with 27 sacks behind the Denver Broncos’ 30, and Jones has accounted for over a third of those takedowns. They’re on pace to finish the year with 54 sacks, which would be close to their team record of 58 from 1977.
Jones has always performed well on the defensive side of the ball for New England. After being drafted in the 2012, the defensive end had 6 sacks in his first season. He improved and had 11.5 sacks in 2013, and tallied 4.5 sacks in his first seven games last year before suffering a hip injury. The injury kept him out of action until week 15 against the Dolphins, where he returned and recorded 1.5 sacks.
Jones has been on a strong trend this year through seven games, averaging over one sack a game and over two individual tackles a game. Jones has 20 individual tackles this season and has combined with teammates for 7 more tackles. Jones also forced a fumble against the Jets on the game’s first series.
Jones’ one downfall has been some inconsistency with his play. In the eight games played so far, Jones has recorded sacks in five of them. In the other games where he hasn’t taken down the quarterback, Jones had five, two, and zero individual tackles, respectively. With more consistency in his stats, Jones could become one of the best defensive linemen to ever play for New England.
Jones recently said “it doesn’t matter” if he leads the league in sacks, but the stat matters for this Patriots defense who wasn’t expected to perform well after losing most of its Super Bowl-winning defense this offseason.