Dealing Cards: Half a sack from 10, Jones is a game away from lucrative offseason
Dec 30, 2016, 2:55 PM
(AP Photo/John Froschauer)
TEMPE, Ariz. — With just half a sack Sunday in Los Angeles, Cardinals linebacker Chandler Jones would have 10 sacks on the season.
It’s a goal of his.
“Each and every game my goal is to get some sacks or get a sack, so that’s definitely my goal is to get the quarterback and hopefully I can, that would be great,” Jones said.
Getting after the quarterback is not only a goal of Jones’, but one of the team’s, too, which is why it went out and traded for the former New England Patriot last March. Last season, in New England, Jones posted a career high 12.5 sacks, and in 2013 he tallied 11.5.
With a great game against the Rams and rookie QB Jared Goff, who was sacked four times in a loss to San Francisco last week and has been brought down 19 times in six games, Jones could potentially set a new personal best mark.
But if nothing else, that half sack would get him 10, and along with Markus Golden, who already has 10, would give the Cardinals a pair of double digit sack players for the first time since 1984, when Curtis Greer had 14 and Al Baker 10.
On a team level, Jones said that would be huge. And on a personal level, posting a second straight double digit sack season would mean something, too.
“Double digit sacks, to get that consecutive years, it kind of solidifies you as being an elite rusher,” he said. “If you can go back-to-back years with getting double digit sacks — and better yet, on two different teams — it shows a lot as a person and as a team.
“It’ll be great if I can get that half a sack or get a sack to make double digits.”
On Sunday, Jones would like to make double digit sacks; in the days, weeks and months after, however, he is likely to make it big with a new contract.
Part of the reason he was available to the Cardinals via trade was the fact that he was set to become an unrestricted free agent after this season, and at 26 years of age with a growing resume, Jones will not come cheap.
Jones is not oblivious to what is going on, but on Friday said he is still focused on the last game of the year.
“When this is over then everyone can pour the contract questions on me, because I’ve been getting it since Week 1,” he said. “I’ve got one game and I’m just trying to play smart, play safe and play fast and physical, and we’ll talk about that after that.”
In the past, Cardinals GM Steve Keim has talked about a desire to get a long-term contract done with Jones, and even if that ultimately does not happen, the team could use the franchise tag on the linebacker to keep him around.
Whatever ends up happening, Jones admitted it is exciting knowing what’s in store for him, but cautioned against looking too far ahead.
“Even though it’s only one week away,” he said. “But we’ll see what happens.”
In that final week, Jones could make some personal history as well as help with a team mark, and while the season has not necessarily gone according to plan, his addition has for the most part been a success.
Jones, however, said he definitely could have played better, but added that with one year under his belt learning the defense, “hopefully next year I’ll be more comfortable and we’ll see.”
So, next year? Does that mean he would like to be back in Arizona in 2017?
“I would love to be here, for sure,” he said.
The final injury report of the 2016 season can be found here, though according to Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, the only player who will not make the trip to Los Angeles is tackle D.J. Humphries. The second-year pro is doing really well with the concussion protocol, however, with the coach adding he is “happy where he’s at right now.”
The only other player who might be in question is rookie DL Robert Nkemdiche, who will be a game-time decision with an ankle injury.
Win in the division, but don’t win the division
Ever since he was hired, Arians has been vocal about the importance of winning NFC West games.
If the Cardinals knock off the Rams Sunday, it will give them a 4-1-1 mark in their division, which would be pretty good.
“I would have thought we’d have won the division, for sure,” Arians said on what he would have thought if told before the season the Cardinals would lose just one division game this season.
The division champion Seattle Seahawks, with a win over the San Francisco 49ers Sunday, would finish with a 3-2-1 NFC West mark, which in part shows that while division games are important, they are not the end-all.
Last year, when the Cardinals won the NFC West and had a 13-3 overall mark, they were just 4-2 in the NFC West, and the year before, when they were an 11-5 Wild Card team, they posted a 3-3 mark against the Seahawks, Rams and 49ers.
In 2013, Arians’ first with the team, the Cardinals were 2-4 within their division.
“You build your football team to win your division, to play in your division, and I think Steve’s (Keim) done a great job of getting a roster that can compete in our division,” Arians said.