Packers Annual Checkup: Brad Jones
FOX Sports Wisconsin’s Paul Imig gives an in-depth statistical analysis and film study of every Packers player in his annual offseason checkup. Check every weekday through mid-April for his latest report.
Brad Jones, inside linebacker
Season stats: 13 games (649 snaps; 72.6 percent of defensive snaps during games in which he was healthy); 90 tackles, 4.0 sacks, four quarterback hurries, seven tackles for loss, seven missed tackles, zero interceptions, zero passes defensed, one forced fumble, 33 stops (solo tackles that resulted in offensive failure); targeted 37 times in coverage, allowing 27 receptions for 276 yards, zero touchdowns
ProFootballFocus.com season rating: minus-6.9 (ranked No. 19 out of 26 on Packers defense)
Best game: Week 3 loss at Cincinnati (played all 56 defensive snaps; 11 tackles, one forced fumble, zero sacks, one missed tackle, five stops; 2.5 PFF rating)
Worst game: Week 10 loss vs. Philadelphia (played 48 of 62 defensive snaps; four tackles, two missed tackles, two stops; minus-3.1 PFF rating)
Expectations at the start of the season: Medium
Expectations were … Not met
Looking live: Brad Jones got off to a nice start for himself during the 2013 offseason, scoring a three-year contract worth nearly $12 million. He had generated some interest as a free agent across the NFL, with the Packers’ biggest competition for his services coming from the Tennessee Titans. But general manager Ted Thompson opted to shell out a fairly big contract to keep Jones — who was coming off his best-ever season in 2012 — in Green Bay. Jones was ranked No. 8 on FOX Sports Wisconsin’s "Most Important Packers in 2013" pre-training camp series, as expectations for him had gone way up with the new contract. That high placement also had to do with the team’s decisions not long before that to release Desmond Bishop and D.J. Smith due to injury concerns. Inside linebacker is a very important position in defensive coordinator Dom Capers’ 3-4 system, and with Jones’ new deal and A.J. Hawk restructuring with a pay cut, it was clear that Green Bay needed a big year from the 27-year-old converted outside linebacker.
Upon further review: Jones did not deliver at the level for which he was paid. His 2013 season was also well below his performance from 2012. After a very quiet training camp in the first few weeks, Jones injured his hamstring in the third preseason game and then missed the preseason finale. The regular season started out well for Jones, who provided quality run support leading up to Green Bay’s early bye. He also produced three quarterback hurries in the first two games. But when Jones’ hamstring injury returned and he missed Weeks 6, 7 and 8, he wasn’t the same after. When he got back on the field, he missed four tackles in a three-game span and went 12 weeks without a quarterback hurry. While Jamari Lattimore’s athleticism was on display during Jones’ absence, it was that bigger stage for Lattimore that exposed some of his weaknesses. That’s part of the reason why Capers kept Jones ahead of Lattimore on the depth chart as the season progressed, even though Jones was doing very little at that point to earn such significant playing time. Going through his first NFL season as the full-time starter at inside linebacker (remember that in 2012 he didn’t play at all until Week 6) demonstrated further that Jones is probably best suited for a mid-tier role in a defense. He does many things adequately, but he does few things at the level of an NFL starter.
Overall 2013 grade: C
Status for 2014: Eighty percent chance of being on the Packers’ active roster to begin the 2014 season. Jones is due nearly $4 million in 2014, so there’s reason for Thompson to ponder whether that’s too much for a player coming off a disappointing year. The problem for Green Bay’s defense is that there’s not a young player ready to step in and start in Jones’ place. Hawk is 30 years old, Lattimore didn’t seem ready for an increased role, 2013 seventh-round pick Sam Barrington isn’t there yet and 2012 fifth-round pick Terrell Manning never even made it out of training camp in 2013. Inside linebacker is a position in need of an upgrade for the Packers, but even if they address it in free agency or the draft, it seems likely that Jones gets at least one more year with the team.
Next: Defensive lineman Datone Jones
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