The Green Bay Packers hope they are building a championship caliber defense heading into the 2016 season. One thing that will help that cause is a lethal pass rush, which is why it was promising to see Datone Jones play so well in the Family Night Scrimmage Sunday at Lambeau Field.
For the past three seasons, the Packers have been trying to find ways to make Jones effective. Yet, for the most part, his production has been lacking. The former first-round pick has racked up just 7.5 sacks in three seasons He also has 41 tackles, one interception, two fumbles recovered and five passes defensed.
Not the worst numbers of all time, but not what you’d expect from a top draft pick.
In truth, Jones has not met his potential — not yet anyways. However, that is something the Packers were hoping to change by shifting him to outside linebacker from defensive end.
To that end, Jones dropped around 20 pounds during the offseason, which saw his weight go down from 295 to 275. And with a lighter frame, Jones’ pass-rush skills have improved — noticeably.
Reports have stated that Jones has impressed throughout training camp, especially with his ability to get around the edge much quicker. But last night, in the annual Family Night scrimmage, which is really just a glorified practice, Jones showed why Green Bay made the move.
In the team-scrimmage period, Jones notched two sacks, albeit against a pair of former undrafted free agents, but also registered a pressure against Don Barclay. Jones definitely looks faster and more athletic on the edge, but with his size and strength, he should be able to do more than just rush the passer.
Green Bay is still hoping Jones will live up to his first-round billing and with the questions surrounding Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers, regarding the NFL investigating them for the use of PED’s, it’s never a bad thing to have quality depth.
Regardless, Jones will see the field this year, even if it’s in a sub role. And even if he is playing less than 50 percent of the snaps, which seems highly likely, as long as he is making an impact as a pass rusher, that’s the only thing that matters.
It’s do or die for Jones in Green Bay, so if he wants to remain with the Packers long-term, he needs to keep finding ways to pressure the quarterback.