Jonathan Jones shows 'textbook technique,' Patriots coach Bill Belichick says

Jonathan Jones shows 'textbook technique,' Patriots coach Bill Belichick says

Cornerback Jonathan Jones made the New England Patriots as an undrafted rookie out of Auburn in 2016 because of his ability on special teams, and he got a Super Bowl ring out of it.

Jones played 64 snaps in the New England secondary spread over four regular-season games last season. But he was on the field for 370 special-teams plays in the Patriots' 19 games.

The 2017 season started the same way: In New England's 42-27 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sept. 7, Jones handled 26 special-teams plays and played three defensive snaps.

But on Sunday in New England's second game, Patriots cornerback Eric Rowe left with a groin injury. So in addition to his 19 special-teams plays, Jones played 27 snaps on defense, including two that loomed large in the Patriots' 36-20 victory.

On a third-and-8 snap at the New England 16-yard line, Jones knocked a pass by quarterback Drew Bree out of wide receiver Ted Ginn's hands in the end zone. The Saints settled for a field goal with 8:18 left in the second quarter to cut the Patriots' lead to 20-13.

In the third quarter, Jones broke up the pass when Brees threw deep for wide receiver Brandon Coleman.

"I thought on both of those plays the technique that he used to finish the play, the final reception point, was excellent, perfect," New England coach Bill Belichick said. "It was textbook technique, what we teach all of our players to do, but it's a great illustration of Jonathan doing it and having two big plays, two very productive plays. Those are good examples for us to show, not only him, but all of the other players in terms of playing those types of passes and finishing in the situation that he was in.

"Defensive backs only get, usually, not very many opportunities to play balls like that in practice or in the games. It doesn't come up a lot of times in the game. For Jonathan, it came up twice in that game, which is, I'd say, is a little bit unusual, that the frequency would be that. But when it does come up, it's such an important play that we've got to play it properly. It's so critical to play it properly because of the importance of the play. Again, he did a great job on that and those will be great teaching tapes for him -- both him and our other players -- that when they're in that position, to see how he did it properly and how successful that was."

Jones' teammates weren't surprised that he played well when he got the opportunity.

"We're big on the next-man-up thing here," safety Duron Harmon said. "And it's for every position -- from the quarterback to the corner. Jon Jones has been playing good ball all camp, and for him to go out there, I don't think there was anybody more excited than me. Every time he made a play, I was over there."

Despite the praise, Jones could be back in his mainly special-teams role when the Patriots play the Houston Texans on Sunday, although something odd happened in the New England secondary against the Saints.

Cornerback Malcolm Butler - Super Bowl hero as a rookie in 2014, Pro Bowler in 2015 and second-team All-Pro in 2016 - didn't start the game for the Patriots. Rowe was in the former West Alabama standout's place.

After playing all 68 defensive snaps in the season-opening game, Butler came off the bench to play 49 of the 65 defensive snaps against the Saints. But his absence from the starting lineup prompted Belichick to be asked if the cornerback had "performed as consistently this season as he has shown you in the past."

"Look we're into a new season, so I don't think anybody's performance this season is really where it needs to be or where it will be," Belichick said. "We all need to do a better job - players, coaches - all of us across the board. Hopefully, we'll all continue to get better during the course of the year. That's why we practice and meet and come in here and work hard, so, hopefully, we'll all be able to improve."

A restricted free agent, Butler seemed all but traded to the Saints at one point during the offseason. He hoped to work out a long-term contract after rising from tryout player to all-star. He got a substantial pay raise to $3.91 million, but that was after the Patriots put a first-round tender on him, scaring off teams that might have been inclined to offer Butler a contract. That meant any team that signed Butler would have to give the Patriots a first-round draft choice.

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Source : http://www.al.com/sports/index.ssf/2017/09/jonathan_jones_shows_textbook.html

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