Jones portrayed Thursday that the Falcons defense will be eager to improve next season after a rocky 2018 campaign. "I think it's going to be a little bit different," Jones said of his expectations for the Atlanta defense in 2019. "(We) have a chip on (our) shoulder about what happened this year and guys coming back have a lot to prove. We've just got to put it all together and set our standard and get after it." Other than foreseeing an attitude adjustment for the Falcons defense in 2019, Jones also exuded optimism about head coach Dan Quinn assuming defensive play-calling responsibilities for the recently dismissed Marquand Manuel. "He's always been around us, but now we'll have him around permanently," Jones explained. "It will be great to have him. He knows each guy; each aspect of the defense and he'll have it rolling." Jones himself is aiming for a bounce-back season after a foot injury cost him 10 games in 2018. With Jones out of the lineup, Atlanta struggled in containing opposing running backs in the passing game, surrendering the second-most receptions and the third-most receiving yards to the position.
Jones registered four stops and two pass deflections during Sunday's 34-32 win over the Buccaneers. A Pro Bowler a season earlier, Jones' 2018 campaign got off to an unfortunate start when he broke his foot in the opener and missed the subsequent 10 games. He returned to impressive form once he was activated from injured reserve, however, churning out 44 tackles and returning an interception for a touchdown between Weeks 13 and 17. An elite all-around linebacker when fully healthy, Jones will anchor the Atlanta defense in 2019.
Jones was limited during Wednesday's session with a foot injury, Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com reports. Jones' foot issue is not believed to be all too serious given his ability to practice, albeit in a limited fashion. We should have a clearer indication of his status for Sunday's game a little bit later this week.
Jones tallied 14 combined tackles and one forced fumble during Sunday's 24-10 win against the Panthers. Atlanta's star middle linebacker has had an undeniable impact on the defense's ability to slow down opponents this season, as the Falcons allow 20.4 points per game when he is active, compared to 28.9 when he was inactive between Weeks 2 and 12 with a foot injury. Jones has demonstrated an insatiable nose for the football in five appearances this season, accounting for 9.8 tackles per game and twice exceeding 13 tackles in a single performance. A stellar pass defender in addition to his prowess as a run stopper, Jones has added six pass deflections, two interceptions and an interception return for a touchdown in his abbreviated 2018 campaign. In Week 17, he'll be charged with helping to contain a Buccaneers offense that ranks third in yards per game (414.3) and 13th in scoring offense (24.3 points per game).
Jones recorded five solo tackles and one assisted tackle during Sunday's 34-20 loss to Green Bay. Jones was effective in helping slow down Packers back Aaron Jones, tackling the explosive runner for a gain of four or fewer rushing yards on four occasions Sunday (averages 5.6 yards per carry on the season). He forced incompletions both times he was targeted, and he very nearly recorded a pick-six off Aaron Rodgers two minutes before the end of the first half. The third-year linebacker has fully worked his way back into the fold after recovering from a Week 1 foot injury, as Atlanta prepares to take on electrifying Cardinals running back David Johnson (108.2 scrimmage yards per game since Byron Leftwich took over as offensive coordinator).
|7||10/20||Los Angeles Rams||29|
|10||11/10||@New Orleans Saints||20|
|12||11/24||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||6|
|13||11/29||New Orleans Saints||20|
|15||12/15||@San Francisco 49ers||14|
|17||12/29||@Tampa Bay Buccaneers||6|