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Cory's Corner: Datone Jones is proving unselfishness

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Cory's Corner: Datone Jones is proving unselfishness

Datone Jones knows he better make something happen this year.

After the Packers declined on a fifth-year option for the former first rounder drafted No. 26 in 2013, Jones had more incentive to make it count in 2016.

Jones’ Packers career hasn’t been that memorable. In three seasons he has only started three games and has made eight sacks and 37 solo tackles. Not exactly eye-popping numbers for guy that was brought in to get a tremendous push up front and win the line of scrimmage immediately.

And now, with Jones in the midst of trying to play for a contract, the Packers have changed his position from outside lineman to outside linebacker/elephant end. And to make the transition even smoother, Jones dropped 20 pounds, from 295 to 275.

Most guys would balk at the thought of changing positions, especially when playing in a year that means so much. But not the 26-year-old Jones, which really says something about what kind of an unselfish player he is.

“I’m loving it,” Jones said last month.  “A situation happens like this, you can jump in there and boom — you could fill a role and play it. Now, I’m excited because I actually do get a full season to learn coverages, learn how to cover tight ends and running backs. Just rush from different angles.”

And it’s starting to show as well. In Sunday’s Family Night, Jones had a couple sacks because he’s quicker off the ball.

The only way this experiment works is if it opens up lanes for Clay Matthews, who is also moving to outside linebacker. If Jones can cause enough problems for linemen to start worrying about him, then defensive coordinator Dom Capers will know that victory is his.

And let’s not forget about Julius Peppers and Nick Perry. The Packers will monitor Peppers’ snaps closely in order to keep him fresh in December, January and February. And Perry is primed for a breakout season in his fifth year after coming to camp fully healthy.

The Packers were tied for 7th in the NFL last season with 43 sacks, and Jones only accounted for 7 percent of those.

Expect that number to take a huge leap this season if he continues to sidestep his way past slower offensive linemen, which will likely lead to takeaway opportunities.  


Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (28) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Nick Perry's picture

Now wouldn't it be SOMETHING is Jones thrives in his new position and Perry stays healthy and is good for 10 sacks. Combine that with Matthews coming from God knows where, Daniels, our own Tasmanian Devil, and a fresher Peppers the Packers just might finally have a combination of guys who can pressure the QB anytime from anywhere no matter who's on the field.
Key on Matthews and Peppers and Jones and Perry get you. Clue on them and Daniels and Peppers get you inside. Could be a beautiful thing to watch, especially if the Offense is clicking and scoring 30 points again.

dobber's picture

If it means a pass rush that is consistently effective without relying on blitzing DBs, then I'm all for it!

Bearmeat's picture

Yeah, it'd be a beautiful thing to watch. I'm also VERY skeptical that either Perry or Jones turns in anything more than we've seen before. Leopards rarely change their spots.

They're replacement level players Nick.

MissKathy's picture

Great observation about Jones so far in this budding season. From my perspective, he has shown tremendous growth in personal and professional maturity and poise. Personally, I'm excited for him.
Aw hell, what am I saying? I'm excited for the entire team because of the commitment of each individual - Jones included.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I don't think unselfishness is the right word. Reminds me of Neal - once he proved he couldn't play DE, they moved him to OLB and extended his career. Datone pretty well has shown to my satisfaction that he can't play DE other than as a back-up, so moving to elephant OLB is an opportunity, not an unselfish act. I actually think this move might pan out even better for Jones than the move helped Neal.

BTW, Jones had been mired as the 3rd string elephant OLB, with CM3 and Perry lining up with the first string and Elliott and Peppers with the 2nd string. With his strong showing at family night, perhaps Jones gets some time with the 1st and 2nd string. Time will tell, but I like this move.

marpag1's picture

Totally agree. Unselfish is not the right word at all. Datone Jones is helping Datone Jones by doing this. His time at OLB last year is the best that he has looked... ever. I'm not saying he'll be great or even good, but he did zilch at DE, and he looked OK late last year at OLB.

Mojo's picture

Agree with TGR. Jones says he's "loving it", ergo he loses any unselfishness points.

Plus, as TGR said, this creates an opportunity for him to make an impact after he was basically spinning his wheels inside.

RCPackerFan's picture

I am really excited to see our pass rush this year.

Its great that Mathews is back playing his natural position, and Peppers is still playing strong at his age.

But I think the strength of our pass rush will come from players stepping up this year. Nick Perry, Datone Jones and Jayrone Elliott.
Perry had his first full offseason where he was able to participate in activities. Jones has dropped weight and is playing in a role that I think fits his abilities better. And Elliott I think is about to explode. I think this year they will find ways to get him on the field more and use his abilities, which is finding a way to the QB.

I think between Elliott, Perry and Jones they will combine for 20+ sacks this year. My bold prediction is that Elliott has 10+ sacks.

I'm really looking forward to seeing our defense this year. Not only do we have the pass rush now, but we have a good secondary to match it.

RCPackerFan's picture

That's my Bold Prediction...

Whats your Bold Prediction?

dobber's picture

"Whats your Bold Prediction?"

From Cow? Cut/Paste picture of nuclear mushroom cloud exploding over Lambeau here... ;)

dobber's picture

As long as the sacks are coming from somewhere, it doesn't matter to me if Peppers and Matthews get 6 each.

RCPackerFan's picture

How about your bold positive prediction?

Bearmeat's picture

Keep in mind that you are talking to Eeyore. When you ask Eeyore for the positive, you are asking for a blank stare back and a pathetic attempt.

Bearmeat's picture

Actually RC,

I think Cow is right on in this (rare) case. I really don't see the upside of Elliot, Perry or Jones. They are what they are, and expecting them to be more is IMO foolish and wreaks of fan goggles. Sorry.

Hope Fackrell turns out well, because Pep is done after this year.

RCPackerFan's picture

That's fine. Everyone has their own opinions and I respect that.

Elliot has showed each preseason that he can be a tremendous pass rusher. Last year he was starting to come on, he got banged up and they used him more on special teams. He started to get more playing time late. I think his speed off the edge sets him apart from the other pass rushers (other then Mathews). I believe he will become a huge part of their pass rush.

Perry I think will have his most productive year. He was finally healthy throughout all of the off season. He finished last year strong. I do expect Perry to do well.

Jones last year really started to play well especially after he was switched to the elephant end. His rookie year he played some OLB and I thought at that point it maybe his best position. Jones dropping weight, he is quicker and will be a bigger force then playing the 5 technique which he wasn't suited to play.

I'm very excited about our rushers. I think our defense will be a top 10 defense this year.

Bearmeat's picture

Let me reiterate that I hope you are right.

Tundraboy's picture

I agree. Not a stretch or leap of faith at all.

Handsback's picture

The key to Jones success may be Nick Perry. The reason for that is while Perry could be a force as an OLB, the team will make sure he stays fresh much like Peppers. Jones coming in will not offer any relief for those OTs. The combo of Perry/Jones switching back and forth will keep the OCs gameplan restricted to short passes or dive runs. IF those OLBs stay healthy (BIG IF) people will start comparing them to Denver's D from last year.

marpag1's picture

Wowzers... and speaking of Broncos, your optimism is "unbridled. "

Hey, I hope you're right. Optimism is fun, even if it's a little crazy. ;)

dobber's picture

The question is: will Jones be more effective than Mike Neal in this role? That's what's essentially changed in the top end of the Packers OLB corps.

Someone hit the nail on the head above: I don't think this is so much about Jones being unselfish. He could dig his heels in and complain and demand to play in his old role...and then he's likely to struggle and then have a reputation for being a problem child just before he's eligible for FA. Jones really doesn't have a choice here if he wants to earn a decent contract.

Since '61's picture

The key for D. Jones is to remain healthy. If he can make it through the season I think that this move will prove to be the best use of his talents. He doesn't need to be great, just consistent enough for OCs to account for him and open up lanes for CM3, Daniels, Peppers, Elliot, etc... I am a little concerned about him going against OLs at his new weight in the run game but he should be quicker and more athletic as well. We'll know after the first couple of games. Until then let's get him through the pre-season healthy. Thanks, Since '61

dobber's picture

"I am a little concerned about him going against OLs at his new weight in the run game but he should be quicker and more athletic as well."

How good was he in the run game before? His responsibilities and matchups will change on run downs in this new role. Besides, I don't see him playing as many snaps at OLB on run downs as Perry.

Since '61's picture

Dobber - I agree that Datone was not great against the run before and that his matchups will change but there will be situations where opponents will run at him when they see him come on the field. But hopefully this will be the only trade off for achieving a more effective pass rush. Time will tell. Thanks, Since '61

Tarynfor12's picture

Yes, accepting an ' or else ' and spinning it as ' unselfish ' is a denial of the truth.

Matthews moving inside was ' unselfish ' since he ' didn't ' have to as he wouldn't have been benched or released for not doing so. Jones refusing would likely have seen him traded and Neal being retained.

egbertsouse's picture

My heart says, "He'll get 10 sacks!" My head says, "Another one of TT's square peg, round hole players."

al bundy's picture

My issue in many sports: its amazing the self motivation these guys have ina contract year. Datone gets it!

dobber's picture

" if either Perry or Datone have really big years, they'll play themselves out of Green Bay."

More compensatory picks, please!

stockholder's picture

I believe this is Peppers last year. Hopefully he'll get to go out with a ring. The money will be split up, and will go to perry. ( Look for 10 sacks. ) I think jones get 6 sacks. Mathews leads the team with at least 12.

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