Chandler Jones celebrates "in my dreams", waking focus on Texans
|Chandler Jones was relentless in his pursuit of Manning on Sunday|
Same thing with watching him play.
In his "sophomore" season out of Syracuse University, the 23 year old Jones plays and speaks with the distinction of a much older, more sagacious man, articulating his thoughts into brief, compact sound bites that need zero elaboration.
So when Jones speaks, it's with the quiet confidence that could make him the star of his own Dos Equis commercials - "I don't always get to the quarterback. But when I do, I prefer to separate him from the ball."
The most interesting man in the world, Jones is a rising star for a Patriots' defensive line that, frankly, would be in big trouble if he wasn't in the mix. Depending on the situation and alignment, Jones will line up with his hand in the dirt inside or out, his 6' 5", 270 pound frame enabling him to dart past slower interior linemen as an undersized tackle or as an end with a portfolio of inside/outside moves.
And he's athletic enough to drop into coverage and to rush the quarterback from a two-point stance as a linebacker - versatile in the want of coach Bill Belichick and mature beyond his age and experience, Jones demonstrated all on Sunday night against a gigantic and talented Denver Broncos offensive line, and then again in the locker room on Monday, surrounded by reporters.
“Just go – just keep going, don’t stop." Jones quipped to WEEI.com's Chris Price when queried about the Patriots' defensive mindset in holding the Broncos' offensive juggernaut to just one touchdown in Sunday night's win. "No matter what the score is, just keep going. That should be the motto for everyone not just the rookies, but for any team and not just for our team."
Then Jones deftly left a not-so-subtle message for the rest of the Patriots opponents and, indeed, every other team in the NFL. "Any team that saw us play the other night, I’m pretty sure that there are other players that watched that game and it just goes to show don’t stop, just keep going."
There is a reason why the Patriots haven't been blown out of a game in over three years, a reason why they've been in every single game this season despite losing three impact starters for the season and several more for the short-term, and Jones put that into perspective as well.
“It’s just the kind of guys that Bill Belichick has put on this team. I feel like we have guys that are willing to put 110 percent on every snap on every play." then added his two cents into the continued criticism of Brandon Spikes.
"You can talk about Brandon Spikes. He had a great game. He went out there and he recovered a fumble. It’s certain things, just the camaraderie and the brotherhood and how we work so well together and that’s the progression you’re going to get.”
“I feel like it’s more than the mental toughness."
When further probed about Sunday night's game, Jones brushed the questions aside.
“It was an emotional win but it’s over. I would say take some time off and celebrate but I celebrated it last night in my dreams when I was asleep. That’s about it and we’re moving on to Houston.”
With 10 1/2 sacks in eleven games thus far in 2013, Chandler Jones has every right to boast - and were he a normal 23 year old kid he probably would be - but the all-but-certain Pro Bowl selection had other things on his mind on Monday, the Houston Texans being one, and his pillow being the other.
“I’m very sleepy, to be honest with you,” Jones said “But I feel great to go out there and get a good win and to see our team battle like that for more than 60 minutes, actually."
The entire country saw the New England Patriots battle for more than 60 minutes on Sunday night, and what 31 other fan bases witnessed was a relentlessly attacking football team that will never give up, and always finds a way to put themselves in position to win...
...and that has to be very disconcerting to them, particularly now that Jones and his teammates have put themselves into position to draw a top two seed for the playoffs, and with the win over Denver - plus a little help - perhaps put themselves in line for home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Ask Peyton Manning how tough a task that's going to be for any visitor to Gillette Stadium to overcome.