‘Never satisfied’: Chandler Jones’ eyes only on regular-season finale

Jan 4, 2022, 7:20 PM
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) fumbles the ball as he is hit by Arizona Cardinals outs...

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) fumbles the ball as he is hit by Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Chandler Jones (55) during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. The Cowboys recovered the fumble. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman)

(AP Photo/Roger Steinman)

Chandler Jones did not want to talk about how this is the first time in his six-year Arizona Cardinals career that he will appear in the postseason.

Nor did the four-time Pro Bowler want to look at what he’s accomplished so far this season in terms of what it means for his next contract.

“How did I know that this interview would start with the P word?” the outside linebacker told reporters Tuesday. “I’m going to try to go through this interview without using the P word. We’re talking about the Seahawks. … No playoff convo.

“For me personally, I think it’s very important to finish the season strong,” Jones added. “I’ve always had the mindset of not looking ahead, no matter who we’re playing or what the circumstances may be.”

After a trade request from the offseason never materialized and with free agency looming after the season, Jones could use at least two more games left to make a case that the Cardinals were wrong in passing on finding common ground for a new deal.

For now, staying in the moment, no matter how far apart Jones and the franchise might be in determining his future in Arizona, should benefit both parties.

Jones, at 31 years old, remains a dominant figure in the Cardinals’ pass-rushing ecosystem. According to Pro Football Focus, he has by far the best pass-rushing grade (88.2) and is second in total defense grade (73.5) behind the injured J.J. Watt. That’s despite his run defense grade (45.0) bogging the total score down.

In more understandable terms, Jones is second behind Arizona teammate Markus Golden’s 11 sacks with 9.5, and Jones leads the team in tackles for loss (12) and forced fumbles (five).

Some might say Golden having his best season since he played with Jones in 2016, at least in terms of sacks and forced fumbles (four), has a lot to do with the play of the opposite outside backer.

While Jones has a case for a very significant payday, the Cardinals obviously have yet to act on keeping him locked in.

Looking back at the team’s decision not to in the offseason means peeking at last year. Jones’ 2020 included one sack and one tackle for loss in the first four-plus games before he suffered a season-ending biceps injury.

Jones appeared intent on getting off to a fast start coming off that recovery, tallying five sacks in a win against the Tennessee Titans to begin 2021. Relatively, he cooled down to a more mortal 4.5 sacks over the last 13 games he’s played.

Jones missed two games this year after landing on the COVID-19 reserve, and he could point to his availability of never missing a game in his first four seasons with the Cardinals.

This year, his self-evaluation so far goes like so:

“I’m not satisfied. Never satisfied,” Jones said. “I also feel like I can definitely play better. When you talk about statistics — I know I had an interview previously when I spoke about the stats never lie — but if you turn on the film and you watch the games, you definitely know that the stats don’t really matter. It depends on the plays are being made or the effect that you cause in a game.”

He has at least two more offensive game plans to muck up — this Sunday against Seattle and then in the Wild Card round. And Jones hopes to parlay that into forcing the Cardinals or another team to open up the check book.

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‘Never satisfied’: Chandler Jones’ eyes only on regular-season finale