Put Up or Shut Up Time For Datone Jones

The time is now for the former first round pick to become something more than just another guy on the field. 

Excellent read from Ty Dunne over at JSOnline on Datone Jones taking up yoga in the hopes of finding more flexibility and better balance. 

Money quote:

 "Five." That's how many sacks the Green Bay Packers defensive end says he missed last year.

Then, he starts listing them one by one.

"Buffalo. I missed Tom Brady twice. I missed Mark Sanchez. I missed a safety in the end zone against Detroit. I know there was another one. Matt Ryan, against the Falcons. I mean, it's crazy."

So maybe it was six. To him, the whiffs had one common denominator.

"My balance wasn't there," Jones said. "Just being not flexible."

One can't help but be impressed by the fact that Jones recognized an area of his game that was holding him back and took steps to improve it.

The tape absolutely bears out what he's talking about when it comes to the missed sacks, though I think he's being too hard on himself on some of them.

One thing that certainly shows up, however, is the balance issue. Several times last year, Jones would do good work getting through the line only to arrive in the pocket off-balance.

Even on the occasions when he did seem to regain his equilibrium, an easy side step from the QB was usually enough to escape his pressure.

Take a look at this play against the Patriots to see the kind of thing I'm talking about:

And again in Buffalo.

Now, while Jones is focused on what he needs to improve on, which of course makes sense, I would be remiss if I didn't point out that he played much better against the run down the stretch last year than I think most observers give him credit for. 

He played particularly well against the run in the playoff game against Dallas (no matter what PFF might tell you) when he more than held his own against the Cowboys' All-Pro rookie guard Zack Martin.

In the clip below you'll see Jones doing just a textbook job of getting under Martin's pads, shedding the block and making the tackle. 

There's a bunch of plays later in the year where Jones is playing on the other side of the line of scrimmage. If he can start working through the trash and arriving in the backfield under control, then he'll be cooking with gas. 

I know Packers fans tend to count Jones out after watching him miss so much time with injuries and then not being JJ Watt when he's on the field, but if he can translate what yoga is supposed to help him with onto the playing field, it's not unreasonable to think this is the year he finally puts it all together and becomes the complete player the Packers envisioned when they drafted him in the first round in 2013. 

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Comments (17)

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ray nichkee's picture

June 16, 2015 at 12:34 pm

I sure it has been said before but the video clips do a great job helping understand articles which pin point certain aspects of a players game. Every snap of every game is not fresh in my brain and its impossible to watch every player on the field at once. Not to mention i dont plan on rewatching all the games any time soon.

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Tundraboy's picture

June 16, 2015 at 12:44 pm

Sure would be nice. I would be thrilled with a full year of health and impact from 2 of 3 out of Perry,Jones and Neal.

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lebowski's picture

June 16, 2015 at 12:50 pm

Perry and Neal already missing time with undisclosed injuries. Rinse. Repeat.

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Tundraboy's picture

June 16, 2015 at 01:02 pm

I know that is why I would be thrilled. Just don't understand why theses guys never seem to be prepared, train right or whatever it takes to play.

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Since'61's picture

June 16, 2015 at 03:06 pm

I'm glad that D. Jones is working on an area of his game which needs to be improved. I am a little concerned that he is going into his 3rd NFL season and apparently none of the coaches picked up on this issue sooner, especially with all of the tape and practices they are allegedly watching. Thanks, Since '61

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NickPerry's picture

June 17, 2015 at 06:26 am

Good point Since '61, I've never been a huge fan of the D-Line coach Mike Trgovac but I know he's been with Capers for years. Thompson gets smashed for missing in the draft on D-Lineman all time, maybe it's the coaching they get. I loved the Jones pick when they made it and haven't given up on him a bit. It's time for him to put it together this year.

P.S. I'm not talking about Justin Harrell here though, that was just a horrible pick!

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PackerAaron's picture

June 17, 2015 at 07:48 am

Trgo reminds me of James Campen. 5 years ago Packers fans were constantly complaining about him. Thompson got him better players, now you never hear his name.

Trgo is not the problem.

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lou's picture

June 16, 2015 at 04:48 pm

Everyone has to be positive heading into camp, no young player will tell you they don't expect to "make that next years jump". We heard similar statements from Worthy as we hear from Jones, time to walk the walk or suffer the same fate as Worthy, the team is deeper on the D-Line this year and their will be opportunity for others. Speaking of Pennell (Thompson tWins comments), I noticed at the OTA's last Wednesday he has tatoos on his calfs, on the left one it says THE and on the right one it says BEAST, I hope he lives up to it, check them out when you see him, they are good sized tattos.

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Ferrari Driveer's picture

June 16, 2015 at 10:11 pm

I don't have much confidence that Jones will play well for the Packers and believe that if he had been signed as a free agent rather than a 1st round draft choice, he would be a bubble player who may or may not make the team.

Of the replay games I watched, I didn't see him double teamed and he seldom won the one on one battles.

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porupack's picture

June 16, 2015 at 11:33 pm

"I am a little concerned that he is going into his 3rd NFL season and apparently none of the coaches picked up on this issue sooner" - Since '61

Glad you mention this, since '61. We can restart the debate; is the problem Personnel/Talent, or scheme/coaching? If GB has repeat problems developing effective pass rushers, then when should the criticism begin to fall on Capers, not Thompson?
DJones, NPerry, MNeal, JWorthy, BRaji, MPennel, JBoyd; is this bad drafting, and these guys just aren't talented, or not developed and schemed effectively. I'm inclined to place more blame on Capers, but willing to consider one more year, and see if at least 2 more on the list above (besides MNeal) turn into impact players. If they don't, then my pointy finger aims at Capers.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

June 17, 2015 at 12:33 am

Mike Trgovac has been the defensive line coach for GB since 2009. He is the guy upon whom you ought to be focusing. However, he has been a D-line coach for over 20 years, and I think he has a good reputation, as far as I know. His teams IIRC have had pretty good defensive lines. GB also recently brought in Jerry Montgomery as Defensive Front Assistant. He also has a good reputation.

Yoga may have real benefits, but I think these yoga articles are just filler for struggling guys to latch onto. A few years ago it was martial arts. Before that it was dancing. Maybe next year it will be wind-surfing or shuffle board. Who knows?

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aussiepacker's picture

June 17, 2015 at 04:57 am

I remember one year when Howard Green said in the off season he was mowing lawns to keep fit. Man that made me laugh.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

June 18, 2015 at 04:36 pm

Lol,that was a good one.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

June 17, 2015 at 12:45 am

Datone already is a good pass rusher. If Mr. Nagler is right and he improved his run defense as the season progressed, especially if he is now a complete player, that is excellent news. I would have liked to know what he weighed when camp started. I liked Datone Jones when he was drafted but always worried that he is a 'tweener (the same nagging concern I had with Tuitt, who I loved).

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Bearmeat's picture

June 17, 2015 at 08:00 am

A complete player opposite of Daniels would be HUGE for the defense. I'm skeptical that Jones can be that guy. While I'm admittedly no football analyst, hit run D never stuck out as even average to me. Hope he's put on muscle and the balance that is talked about above.

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Tarynfor12's picture

June 17, 2015 at 10:45 am

Datone Jones should be a bull in a china store instead of attempting yoga under the guise of flexibility is what's wrong with his play technique.
Is there a balance position performed in yoga that will not allow being pushed aside from a 300+ lb offensive linemen. :)

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The TKstinator's picture

June 17, 2015 at 08:22 pm

Don't know about that, but Rod Kimball knows a move that can make a grown man soil his trousers.

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