Making up for lost time: Chandler Jones felt a big game coming vs. Titans

Sep 15, 2021, 12:35 PM
Arizona Cardinals linebacker Chandler Jones (55) celebrates after sacking Tennessee Titans quarterb...

Arizona Cardinals linebacker Chandler Jones (55) celebrates after sacking Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill in the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

(AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

Week 1 usually comes with a bit of rust for NFL players.

That was certainly not the case for Arizona Cardinals linebacker Chandler Jones on Sunday.

In his first game since he went down with a season-ending biceps injury last October, Jones put the league on notice with five sacks, two forced fumbles and six tackles in the Cardinals’ 38-13 win over the Titans. For his efforts, Jones picked up his fifth NFC Defensive Player of the Week honor of his career and fourth with the Cardinals.

If there were any question marks surrounding Jones’ play, he answered them real quick.

“I had a feeling [it was gonna be one of those games],” Jones said Wednesday in his first interview with the media this season. “We had a good week of practice, I had a good week of practice and it showed out on the field for sure.”

Jones was in Tennessee’s backfield early and often, first getting to Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill for a strip-sack midway through the first quarter. Corey Peters nearly scooped and scored, going down at the one-yard line before quarterback Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins found pay dirt a few plays later.

It was a sign of things to come for Jones over the course of the first 15 minutes of play, who would add two more sacks before quarter’s end.

He was far from done, recording two more sacks and one last forced fumble before calling it a day.

Jones celebrated sack No. 5 by making it rain, a nod to his current contract situation.

The money-inspired celebration appeared to pour over onto the sideline during a conversation with general manger Steve Keim and owner Michael Bidwill.

“I was patting [Keim’s] pockets for sure,” Jones said with a smile when asked about the sideline exchange. “He knows what that means.”

While five sacks in a game is an impressive feat for anyone, Jones’ play wasn’t that shocking to those closest to him.

Working out with Jones throughout the spring and summer, running back Chase Edmonds wasn’t surprised one bit by his “big bro’s” performance.

“I got to have a first row, front seat to just watch Chandler Jones grind every single day. … Every single day he went in and busted his tail off,” Edmonds said Tuesday.

“You could tell it was personal to him this year. He wanted to come back and really remind everyone of who he was. … Just a technician and a guy who’s going to be great for a long, long time.”

The linebacker is the sixth player since 2002 to compile at least five sacks and two or more forced fumbles in a game.

Jones is just the third player since 1982 to record at least five sacks in Week 1. Derrick Thomas made six sacks in 1998, while Bill Gay put up 5.5 sacks in 1983.

A resurgent Jones paired with a stout line only helps a defense looking to take a step forward in 2021.

“That’s crazy, five sacks in a game, that’s not something that you see very often,” linebacker Isaiah Simmons told Cardinals reporter Paul Calvisi on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station following the game Sunday. “Maybe you’ll see that once in a decade.

“I’ve actually been able to witness it twice, one last year with Hasson Reddick and one this year with Chandler. J.J. [Watt] and Chandler, they make things easier for us guys in the back. I love it. I love playing behind two probably potential Hall of Famers.”

Even Jones’ main competition in the trenches Sunday had to give props to the linebacker.

You definitely don’t see that — or five sacks from a single human for that matter — every day.

It speaks to the magnitude of Jones’ presence in Arizona’s defense.

“Just his physicality from the start,” head coach Kliff Kingsbury said Monday. “Very first play of the game, hops on the side and makes a tremendous tackle for loss on [Derrick] Henry and really set the tone for our entire defense. … He was outstanding.”

Arizona Cardinals

Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Chris Jones interacts with Arizona Cardinals tight end Darrell Dan...
Arizona Sports

Texans-Cardinals injury report: Arizona TE Darrell Daniels, DT Rashard Lawrence out

The Cardinals are nicked up at tight end, on the offensive line and at linebacker as they prepare for Week 7 against the Houston Texans.
14 hours ago
Arizona Cardinals linebacker Kylie Fitts (49), Cardinals defensive end Chandler Jones (55) and Card...
Arizona Sports

Cardinals OLB Chandler Jones out of COVID-19 protocols, Fitts’ year over

Cardinals outside linebacker Kylie Fitts said on Instagram that his season is over, though it is not clear what has led to his year ending.
14 hours ago
The Arizona Cardinals prepare to take the field for a game against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEne...
Tyler Drake

Cardinals OL making up for Hudson absence; Green to Ertz: ‘Play fast’

TEMPE — Not only did the Arizona Cardinals have to deal with a handful of coaches and players testing positive for COVID-19 when they took on the Cleveland Browns last Sunday, they did so without starting center Rodney Hudson, who was placed on the injured reserve with rib and shoulder injuries ahead of the action. […]
2 days ago
Cardinals DL Jordan Phillips looks on during practice Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021, in Tempe. (Tyler Drak...
Arizona Sports

Report: Cardinals restructure Jordan Phillips’ deal after Zach Ertz add

In order to make the trade for TE Zach Ertz happen, Cardinals GM Steve Keim had to pull some strings with the team's salary cap construction.
2 days ago
Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury chats with cornerback Robert Alford during practice We...
Tyler Drake

Arizona Cardinals embark on Week 7 with Kliff Kingsbury still sidelined

The Arizona Cardinals kicked off Week 7 without head coach Kliff Kingsbury, who is away from the team due to COVID-19.
2 days ago
Arizona Cardinals TE Zach Ertz warms up ahead of practice Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021, in Tempe. (Tyle...
Tyler Drake

Zach Ertz quickly immersing himself in all things Arizona Cardinals

One day after Zach Ertz became a Cardinal, he was off to Cleveland on board the team's plane, with QB Kyler Murray seated right next to him.
3 days ago
Making up for lost time: Chandler Jones felt a big game coming vs. Titans