|Ex-Patriots DE Chandler Jones has already impressed new teammates, coaches in Arizona||09.08.16 at 9:46 am ET|
Get ready for the Chandler Jones Bowl.
The Patriots will get a chance to meet their old teammate Sunday in Sunday’s season opener against the Cardinals, as Jones will line up at defensive end for Arizona.
The 26-year-old, who had 36 sacks in four years with New England, has already made a serious impression on his new coaches and teammates.
“A true professional,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said of Jones on Wednesday. “He comes to work every day. He’s a coach-pleaser. He’s extremely talented, obviously. But I’ve been very impressed with the way he’s fit in with our group and our culture right away.
“He sets an edge presence for us. Playing outside linebacker, defensive end, he’s obviously very versatile where you can put him,” Arians added. “He’s adapted well to playing outside linebacker for us and also in our nickel and dime packages being an edge rusher. It’s something that we were looking for. He has the length and the skill set to rush the passer.”
His defensive teammates are already on record as saying he has a shot at 20 sacks this season. On the other side of the ball, they are equally as enthusiastic about Jones and what he brings.
“Love him. I love him,” said quarterback Carson Palmer. “Just watching some Patriots defense from last year, he was just such a dominant player in the run game and the pass game, and I think that’s the first thing that jumps out. I thought he was just a pass-rusher just seeing his numbers statistically. But he wreaks havoc in the run game. He’s so long, and has such a good bull rush, and is so powerful but still has that speed and quickness and really good with his hands, he’s been absolutely a pleasant surprise just watching him work because he’s more than I expected.
“I was expecting a third-down specialist maybe or really just a pass-rusher. But he’s so disruptive in the run game, and he played a bunch inside last year so he was against guards and centers and held his own so been very, very surprised and happy with him.”
|Bill Belichick outlines exactly why Cardinals as good a group offensively has he’s seen ‘in a long time’||09.06.16 at 10:44 am ET|
FOXBORO — From the moment that the schedule came out in April, Sunday night’s game has been circled on the calendar of most NFL fans.
The two teams who lost their respective conference championship games in January will square off in Arizona. While the Patriots have had the respect of everyone in the NFL for the past 15 years, the Cardinals appear to be coming into their own with a roster led by a 36-year-old quarterback who can actually still pass and an offensive supporting cast as good as any in the league.
Carson Palmer, unlike Peyton Manning, can still beat teams with his arm and has the likes of Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and John Brown to throw to on the outside. All three had over 800 yards receiving last season. Then there’s tight ends Darren Fells and Jermaine Gresham and running back David Johnson.
That’s what Bill Belichick has to prepare for this week.
“We’re obviously seeing a lot of film on the Cardinals. It’s a really impressive team. They do a lot of things well. They’re obviously well-coached. They have a good organization. They’ve done a great job of building the team, a lot of strengths, a lot of things we’ll have to deal with.
“Offensively, probably as good a group of skill players as we’ve seen in a long time. They have great receivers, tight ends, running backs and obviously quarterback. They have a lot of playmakers and a lot of players that can make big plays and make a lot of them.
“Special teams, [Justin] Bethel is one of the top special teams players in the league and is probably as good as anybody we’ll face. Obviously, we haven’t seen a lot of him. He’s an excellent coverage player, kick-blocker. Their returners are explosive players, [David] Johnson on kickoff returns last year, Peterson very dangerous, [Andre] Ellington, whoever we get back there, they’re all big-play type players.”
On defense, Chandler Jones joins a group that is already loaded with playmakers and that generated 180 points off turnovers last year. The back seven is stacked with two first-round picks in linebacker Deonne Bucannon and corner Patrick Peterson and a third-round pick in Tyrann Mathieu.
“Defensively, this is a team that turns the ball over very well,” Belichick said. “They have a good pass rush, a lot of big guys up front. They’re hard to block. Buchanon, Mathieu, Peterson, all the good ball-disruption players, cause fumbles, intercept passes, sack the quarterback, very fast. The team has good speed. It’s hard to out-run these guys. They track everybody down.
“They had a great year last year to the NFC championship game. Just very consistent in their ability to score points, turn the ball over and make a lot of productive plays in all three phases of the game. They’ve had great success playing at home in their stadium. It’ll be a big challenge for us down there, opening on the road against this quality of football team and the way they play there. We need to have a really good week and obviously, need to go down and play a good football game in all three phases.”
|5 things you have to know about the Cardinals: Arizona looks to take next step toward greatness in 2016||09.05.16 at 12:24 pm ET|
Five things you have to know about the Cardinals, who will host the Patriots in the regular-season opener for both teams Sunday night in Arizona.
1. When everyone is healthy, their passing game is really deep.
The Cardinals were one of just two teams last season to have three players finish the year with 800 or more receiving yards (New Orleans was the other). According to Football Outsiders, for eight straight years Arizona has ranked either first or second in the league in the percentage of plays with four or more wide receivers. Bottom line? Carson Palmer is going to test the depth of the New England secondary right out of the gate. Palmer was in the top five of most major passing categories last year, including total passing yards (4,671, fourth), touchdowns (35, tied for second), yards per game (292, fifth) and passer rating (104.6, third). He’s a big, strong pocket presence.
”Carson’s definitely willing to stand in there and deliver the ball under pressure and wait until the last second to get rid of it,” Bill Belichick said of the 6-foot-5, 235-pound Palmer on Monday. “He’s a big, strong guy. He’s big for a quarterback and has a good frame. I’m not saying any quarterback wants to get hit a lot, but there’s some guys that can absorb more of those than others. He’s not as big as (Ben) Roethlisberger, but he’s a big quarterback.”
Everyone knows about the greatness of Larry Fitzgerald, and the undoubted first-ballot Hall of Famer still is Arizona’s first option in the passing game. He’s coming off one of the finest years of his career (career-best 109 catches for 1,215 yards and nine touchdowns) and undoubtedly will face Malcolm Butler for much of the evening. John Brown and Michael Floyd are as good as there is as No. 2 and 3 options. Brown is a 5-foot-11, 195-pound scooter who had 65 catches for 1,003 yards seven touchdowns last year, while Floyd’s size (6-foot-2, 220 pounds) makes him an intriguing target for Palmer. He had 52 catches for 849 yards and six touchdowns in 2015.
The backs also are utilized as part of the passing game, with David Johnson working as a multidimensional threat. The 6-foot-1, 224-pounder had a dynamite rookie campaign in 2015, finishing with 36 catches for 457 yards and four touchdowns in the passing game.
2. Speaking of David Johnson, he’ll be one of the best multidimensional running backs the Patriots will face this season.
As we’ve already said, Johnson was the best option out of the backfield for one of the best passing teams in the league last year, but he also can bring it when it comes to running the ball, with 125 carries for 581 yards (4.6 yards per carry) and eight touchdowns. He was second on the team to Chris Johnson, who ended up with 196 carries for 814 yards and three touchdowns, but if the preseason is any indication, David is likely to get more carries than Chris in 2016.
|Bill Belichick’s parting gift for Chandler Jones? Not trading him ‘to a crappy team’||08.10.16 at 10:15 pm ET|
If there was one upside for Chandler Jones in getting traded from the Patriots, it was where he ended up.
Jones told USA TODAY on Wednesday that when he found out he’d been dealt to Arizona, he called Bill Belichick and told him thank you for trading him to a contender like the Cardinals.
“I didn’t get a chance to speak to him (the day of the trade) – he was on a flight or something,” Jones told USA TODAY Sports on Wednesday. “But I called him the next day and said, ‘Hey, you could’ve traded me to any other team, so thank you for not trading me to a crappy team.’”
Jones said he was fully aware of the situation. Heading into the final year of his rookie contract — and with Jamie Collins, Dont’a Hightower, Jabaal Sheard and Malcolm Butler all coming to the end of their deals sooner rather than later — he wasn’t all that surprised.
“They’re not known for really paying guys over there,” Jones said of the Patriots. “There were rumors going around that I might be traded, but you never really read too much into rumors. When it happened, it was just a tad shocking. But I packed my bags and moved on.”
In that same vein, the 6-foot-5, 247-pounder is aware of what’s at stake for him in 2016.
“Back of my head, yes, it’s my contract year, it’s my fifth season, on my fifth-year exercised option,” said Jones, who had a career-high 12.5 sacks last year. “But I feel like if you get too much into that, that’s when you start worrying about, ‘Oh, I need this many sacks, I’ve got to do this, I’ve got to do that.’
“I really don’t have a lot of personal goals. I’m going to approach this year like another year, trying to do better, trying to be a better Chandler Jones, and I’ll let everything else take care of itself.”
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|New teammates believe ex-Patriots DE Chandler Jones can reach 20-sack plateau in 2016||08.01.16 at 11:06 am ET|
Chandler Jones’ new teammates have set a high bar for the former Patriots’ defensive end.
Jones, dealt by New England to Arizona in the offseason, has the potential for a 20-sack season in 2016, according to Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson and safety Tyrann Mathieu.
“There’s no doubt about it,” Peterson told the Arizona Republic. “He has that potential to be a 20-plus sack guy. … He’s in a contract year, too, so I know he’s going to be even that much hungrier.”
“In this division, yeah, he can get 20 sacks,” Mathieu said. “In this division, they rely on their quarterbacks to make plays – i.e. San Francisco and Seattle. I just figure it like this: If (Dwight) Freeney had eight sacks in a backup role, Chandler should probably get 20 in a starting role.”
The 6-foot-5, 247-pound Jones was taken in the first round of the 2012 draft by the Patriots, and had 36 sacks in four seasons in New England, including a career-high 12.5 last year. He was traded by the Patriots to Arizona in the offseason.
For his part, Jones isn’t going on record with a prediction.
“Honestly, I never try to think about that,” Jones said when asked about reaching the 20-sack plateau. “Maybe at midseason I’ll look at the stats, but I never go out to get a certain number. Hopefully, I do better than last year but I never go out each game and say, ‘Hey, I want this many sacks in this game’ or ‘I’m trying to get this many sacks.’
“Honestly, I wish I could sack the quarterback every time they drop back. But it’s not that easy.”
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|Chandler Jones: It wasn’t shocking to be traded by Patriots||06.08.16 at 3:21 pm ET|
It seems like Chandler Jones had an idea it was coming.
With the number of free agents the Patriots have upcoming following this season, they likely will not be able to keep them all.
So, instead of potentially not re-signing Jones after this season and not getting anything back, the Patriots traded Jones to the Cardinals for a second-round pick and guard Jonathan Cooper earlier this offseason.
On Sirius XM NFL radio Wednesday, Jones admitted he wasn’t surprised when he learned he was dealt.
“There were a lot of rumors out,” Jones said. “I try to stay away from the media, but I heard rumors. Like I said, it wasn’t as shocking when I found out I was traded, but there were definitely rumors.”
It won’t be long before Jones plays his former team as the Patriots will travel to Arizona for the season opener on Sept. 11. Jones is already looking forward to the matchup.
“When I first found that out, that they were going to be on our schedule, I said that I was going to circle that game red, with a red marker,” Jones said. “It’s Week 1, so that’s even better. The NFL already contacted me and told me I’ll probably be mic’d up for that game, so that’ll be a fun game to listen to.”
For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.
|Chris Long on working with Patriots: ‘I love the way we go about business’||05.27.16 at 10:09 am ET|
FOXBORO — Chris Long sounds like a guy who’s really ready to re-start his career in New England.
The 31-year-old defensive end signed a one-year, $2 million deal in New England in March after spending his first eight NFL seasons with the Rams.
Long finished his first week of OTAs with his new team on Thursday in the heat on the grass fields outside Gillette Stadium. And while this time of the offseason is usually centered around learning, the competitor in Long knows he definitely has something to prove to his new employer and teammates.
“I love the way we go about business,” Long said. “I love getting out here and competing. It was a competitive couple of days. I have lot to worry about to get to the point where I can do my job the way I want to do it here. There’s a lot of learning for me. I’m excited to learn and pick it up. You’ve just got to be a sponge.”
Long is trying to regain the form he showed earlier in his career with the Rams that made him one of the most effective defensive ends in football. In 2011, the Virginia product had a career-best 13 sacks. The next season he had 11.5. He’s played just 18 games in the last two seasons, racking up four sacks and 24 tackles.
“Great thing about that is that’s yesterday. It’s in the past,” Long added. “I’m out here with a great attitude every day, trying to get better and every day you try to re-prove yourself. As a player, you should come out every day trying to re-prove yourself and that’s all I try to do every day. New situation, old situation, whatever, it’s just one day at a time for me.
“I came in with no expectations either way. I’m just here to do my job and do what I’m asked to do. Whatever the coaches want me to do, wherever I line up, I didn’t have any expectations. I just want to come in here and compete and help this team. It was awesome. It was a great day to get to work. We had a great week. I’m excited to look at the film and see how we can get better after three days. It was really fun to be out here, playing football, and competing.”
Long was part of an offseason defensive re-boot for the Patriots, as he figures to slot in and help take the reps of Chandler Jones, who was traded to Arizona. He was out on the field this week, along with fellow veteran newcomers Terrance Knighton, Shea McClellin and E.J. Biggers.
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