Good read about Christian Jones, apparently he was better than I thought, mea culpa. Maybe our LB group ain’t as bad as I thought it was:
Jones was coming off a pretty poor year with the Chicago Bears, but with the Lions moving on from Tahir Whitehead, it was clear from the moment Detroit signed Jones to a two-year deal, he was headed for a starting role. The hope was Jones would thrive in a system that better fits his skill-set, but as someone that had been in and out of the starting lineup for the first four years of his career, it wasn’t exactly clear what his biggest strengths were.
Actual role in 2018
2018 stats: 16 games (16 starts): 69 tackles, 1.0 sacks, 3 passes defended, 1 forced fumble
PFF grade: 65.3 (43rd among linebackers)
For the first time in his career, Jones started all 16 games in a season. As a result, he had one of his most productive seasons ever. The early quality of his play on the field was inconclusive. At first, it seemed like he—along with a lot of other defenders on the squad—was still gaining his footing on the new defensive system. His PFF grade was downright awful, and the Lions linebackers were routinely giving up big plays both in the passing and running game. But there’s a clear point in the season in which everything seemed to click for Jones. It came right around the bye week. After that, Jones was one of the better linebackers in the league:
- @PFF_Lions Is there anyway I can find out Christian Jones’ grade between weeks 5 to 17? He was at 40.6 after week 4, but his overall grade was 65.3, so he must’ve improved a lot. I would really appreciate it*
PFF DET Lions
Jones grade from Weeks 5-17 was 74.3 overall, 20th by LB
His 80.4 run defense grade ranked 10th
And 78.3 tackling grade ranked 19th
Of course, that also happens to coincide with the addition of Damon Harrison Sr. Still, the way Jones finished the season was extremely promising, and gives the Lions some serious hope going into 2019—meaning they don’t have to rush rookie linebacker Tavai into the starting lineup.
The article goes on to say that if Jones plays as well as he did last year after week 4, he might well be too expensive for the Lions to keep. These days, you never know.
PS: Maybe the Lions better sign Harrison, I doubt that Jones is the only guy on our defense that got better after Snacks showed up. Some guys make everyone else around him better, and he appears to be one of those guys.