It's not news to anyone that follows the Patriots when I say that with the 60th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft we selected Huge Disappointment, Corner Back, out of Alabama University. Roll Tide.
Going into last season we had Malcolm Butler penciled in as our lock down number 1 corner, and Logan Ryan was projected in the number 2 spot. You never want to ask too much out of rookies, but I fully expected Cyrus Jones to come in and play slot corner in week 1. At the very least he was going to be our starting punt returner, which would save the legs (head, back, knees, ribs, and arms) of Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola. Insert Cyclops, who had so many issues in the preseason learning the defense that it became quickly apparently starting slot corner was a pipe dream. Oh well, an electric punt returner isn't a bad investment for a 2nd round pick. That is until he proved he actually has the depth perception of a one eyed man by trying to catch each punt with his face. He played in 10 games, attempted 11 punt returns, and fumbled 5 times. Are. You. Fucking. Kidding. Me?
By about Thanksgiving the Pats were done with him and so was I. He was a healthy scratch for the entire playoff run. But enjoy your Super Bowl ring big guy. That being said, Cyclops said all the right things this offseason. Last season is over. He's just trying to be a better player in 2017. He wont make those mistakes again. I appreciate it. It's the only attitude you can take. You've been an elite athlete all your life. It can't be easy to step onto a professional field and look like Stanley playing pick up hoops.
After looking much improved in the return role in week 2 of the preseason against the Texans, (2 good returns, 1 bad decision, 1 bad miscommunication) he had a few comments for the media regarding the fans' negative opinion of him. "I mean, that’s life," Jones said. "It is what it is. I know what I play the game for. I know who I play the game for." He continued, "All they’re doing is watching, spectating, criticizing. They’re not Bill Belichick. They’re not guys in this locker room. Those are the only people that matter when it comes to critiquing my play."
Again, I'm into it. It's the right frame of mind. I don't pay his salary. I don't decide if he makes this team. And I've screamed at this kid through my TV screen more times than I'd like to count, but at the end of the day he's right. I'm not an NFL caliber head coach like The One We Call Bill. But you know what else Cyclops? Keelan Cole is not an NFL caliber WR and he torched your ass for a 97 yard tuddy two weeks ago. So it doesn't matter if you don't care what I think. If you aren't helping us win football games you wont be here much past 4pm the first Sunday in September. Because you DO care what Bill thinks, and the only thing he thinks about is winning.
Now I hope he turns it around, and shockingly enough...I think he can! Maybe not at corner, not yet at least. This summer, when I was thinking about how dominant our secondary might be in 2017, I legit forgot this dude was on the team. That's not even hyperbole. I was carving out the depth chart in mind and he didn't come up once. When camp broke and I saw some guy with the DBs wearing the 41 jersey I thought, 'who the hell is that?' I truly think it was a confidence issue last year. Once things start going badly, you start pressing too hard to fix it, which only makes you screw up more. It's called quicksand, every heard of it? Watch The Replacements for me one time.
At least I hope it's a confidence problem because otherwise it's a technique issue. I looked up his college stats and I was shocked at what I found. Is everyone aware that he was a WR on Bama as a freshman?? He played in 11 games and had 4 catches for 51 yards. Sophomore year they switched him to the "athlete" title that only exists in college, and played him mostly at DB. He had 25 tackles, 2 picks, and 5 passes defended in 9 games. Not a bad transition year. His final year, junior year, the one I remember, he was locked in at corner for the Tide. He played in every game, had 44 tackles, 3 picks, and 27 passes defended. And it's worth noting he only returned 4 punts that year. I only bring all this up to say that maybe, just maybe, he's still learning the ropes. Maybe, just maybe, I expected too much of him last year because of where he was drafted. Maybe, just maybe, the pressures of performing on a big stage for a big team got the best of him. Right now, these are all excuses. I hope they become funny anecdotes at the beginning of a very solid Patriots career. If anyone can show him the ropes, it's the one guy Cyclops is trying to impress.