When you see the sports media world talking about the best pass rushers, or even the best defensive players in the NFL, how many of them mention Chandler Jones? Very few, if any. Yes, he came in at number 15 in the NFL’s Top 100 players list this year; but let’s not pretend that the list has immense credibility. I mean, he was completely left off the list last year! We need to start giving Chandler Jones the respect he deserves as one of, if not THE BEST pass rushers in the NFL.
Give Chandler Jones Some More Respect
The Cuse Kid
Chandler Jones started off his football career being undervalued, being only a 2-star recruit by both Scout.com and Rivals.com; and being ranked the eighth-best prospect in the state of New York. After not playing as a freshman, Jones compiled 10.0 sacks, 27.0 tackles for loss, one interception, four passes defensed, three forced fumbles, and two All-Big East selections in the next three years; with his best season being his junior year where he played in all 13 games where he compiled four sacks, 9.5 tackles for loss, four passes defenses, and three forced fumbles.
Although his college numbers weren’t as gaudy as some of the other elite defensive linemen/edge rushers coming out of college, he was regarded as one of the top defenders in the 2012 draft. That being said, he was STILL overlooked by teams, being the 13th defensive player taken at 21 overall.
Yes, he was still a first round pick. Yes, some of the defenders picked ahead of him carved out successful careers in their own right (Luke Kuechly, Stephon Gilmore, Dontari Poe, Fletcher Cox, and let’s even throw Melvin Ingram in there), BUT some of the guys picked in front of Jones had no business being selected where they were.
Best of the Bunch
Four defensive ends were taken in front of Jones: Michael Brockers, Bruce Irvin, Quinton Coples, and Shea McClellin. Of that list, only two of them are still in the league (Brockers and Irvin); and the two that are still in the league haven’t had nearly as much success as Chandler Jones.
Chandler Jones has played eight seasons, and failed to record double-digit sacks in two of them: his rookie year in 2012, and 2014 where he only played in 10 games. He recorded six sacks in both of those seasons. He has totaled 84.0 sacks in his other six seasons. In fact, his 96.0 sacks since he came into the league in 2012 leads the league in that timespan. Sacks aren’t an end all, be all statistic though, so let’s look at some of his other career stats, shall we? Playing primarily as a defensive end, Jones has compiled: one interception, 23 passes defensed, 27 forced fumbles, eight fumble recoveries, 105 tackles for loss, 162 quarterback hits, and one defensive touchdown.
Those career numbers have earned him three trips to the Pro Bowl and being named First team All-Pro twice including 2019 where he put up 19.0 sacks, eight forced fumbles, five passes defensed, and 11 tackles for loss; and 2017 where he led the league in sacks (17.0) and tackles for loss (28) as well as batting away three passes and forcing two fumbles. Even though he led the league in sacks and tackles for loss in 2017 he didn’t win Defensive Player of the Year and in 2019 he was second in sacks and first in forced fumbles and didn’t win then either, so he continues to be overlooked.
To give an understanding of just how good Jones has been, let’s compare his current numbers and pace to two all-time greats: career sacks leader Bruce Smith, and a player that many believe to be the best defensive player ever, Lawrence Taylor.
Over 19 seasons, Bruce Smith compiled 200.0 sacks, 41 tackles for loss, 43 forced fumbles, 15 fumble recoveries, seven passes defensed, two interceptions, and one defensive touchdown. Chandler Jones has already eclipsed Smith’s tackles for loss number, passes defensed number, and averages more sacks per season than Smith did (Smith: 10.5/season, Jones: 12.0/season), more forced fumbles per season than Smith did (Smith:2.26/season, Jones: 3.3/season), and more fumble recoveries per season than Smith (Smith:0.78/season, Jones: 1/season). Assuming Jones keeps this pace and plays 19 seasons like Smith did, Chandler Jones will end his career eclipsing the 200 sack mark with 228 sacks, while also besting Smith’s forced fumble and fumble recoveries numbers with 62 and 19 respectively.
Lawrence Taylor over 15 seasons collected 132.5 sacks officially (142 unofficially), nine interceptions, 33 forced fumbles, 10 fumble recoveries, and two defensive touchdowns. Again, comparing averages: Jones averages more sacks (LT:9.46/season), forced fumbles (LT:2.2/season), and fumble recoveries (LT:0.66/season) per season than Lawrence Taylor did in his career.
Assuming Chandler Jones has the same longevity that many of the NFL career record holders had; with the pace that he has set, he looks to be the NFL career leader (or at least near the top of the list) in: sacks, forced fumbles, and tackles for loss. Let’s just say he plays 17 years at his current pace, Chandler Jones will have 204.0 sacks, 56 forced fumbles, and 223 tackles for loss; making him the career leader in all three categories. Now I know that we don’t live in a perfect world and that there are external factors that could affect these projections, but this just shows how torrid of a pace Jones is on.
It doesn’t matter who you think the best pass rusher in league history is, Chandler Jones is on pace to shatter multiple NFL career records including career sacks. Jones is seldom talked about, but he needs to be in the conversation for best pass rusher in the NFL. Assuming longevity and consistency, he could be the best ever. At the very least, he needs some respect.