Chandler Jones has long been one of the underrated stars in the NFL, continuing to dominate opposing offensive lines week after week yet failing to receive the notoriety around the league many pass rushers have received. Perhaps playing for the Arizona Cardinals plays a role, as Jones gets overshadowed by the likes of Aaron Donald, T.J. Watt, and others.
All Jones has done is record 66 sacks over the past six seasons, which ranks second in the NFL despite playing nine fewer games than Donald (who ranks first with 66.5). Jones is one of the premier pass rushers in the game, as evidenced by his five-sack performance in Sunday's dominant win over the Tennessee Titans. A right biceps injury limited Jones to just five games in 2020, but the Cardinals edge rusher is on a vengeance tour this year -- fear that should strike the heart of any offensive line Jones faces this fall.
In this week's edition of "By The Numbers," we'll review Jones' stellar career as the Cardinals pass rusher recorded his 100th career sack in Week 1 -- and his historic opening week performance.
Most sacks -- first 125 career games
- Reggie White -- 125.5
- DeMarcus Ware -- 110.5
- Bruce Smith -- 106
- Jared Allen -- 105
- Chandler Jones -- 102
Most sacks -- since 2012 (Jones' rookie year)
Most forced fumbles -- since 2012 (Jones' rookie year)
- Chandler Jones -- 29
- Robert Quinn -- 27
- J.J. Watt -- 25
- Lavonte David -- 24
- Khalil Mack -- 23
- Von Miller -- 23
Jones didn't get off to a hot start in his career, which took off when he was traded to the Cardinals from the New England Patriots in 2016. Since the start of the 2016 season, Jones has recorded four double-digit sack seasons and earned two First Team All-Pro selections with two Pro Bowl appearances. He has at least one sack in 44 of 70 games played with Arizona, which leads the NFL dating back to 2016.
Jones had 13 sacks in each of his last three full seasons (2017-2019), trailing only Reggie White (four) for the most consecutive 13-plus sack campaigns in NFL history. A biceps injury stalled the pursuit of history, but Jones still has the second-most sacks (66) and his tied with Joey Bosa for the fifth-most quarterback hits (111) since the start of the 2016 season.
How does Jones enter the stratosphere of White? Jones averages .816 sacks per game, second only to White, who averaged .853 sacks per game (minimum 75 games played). Of the 36 players that have recorded 100 sacks in NFL history, 13 are in the Hall of Fame -- so Jones may need to up his totals over the next several seasons. Fortunately for Jones, he's the 17th player to reach 100 career sacks by the time he turned 31 -- 10 of those players are in the Hall of Fame or will be enshrined in Canton when their career ends.
Let's take a look at Jones' historic five-sack performance in Week 1:
Cardinals franchise record for sacks (game)
- Chandler Jones (2021) -- 5
- Haason Reddick (2020) -- 5
- Curtis Greer (1983) -- 4.5
- Chandler Jones (2019) -- 4
- Chandler Jones (2019) -- 4
- Bertrand Berry (2004) -- 4
Most career games with 4+ sacks
- Leslie O'Neal -- 4
- Derrick Thomas -- 4
- Chandler Jones -- 3
- Reggie White -- 3
What makes Jones' five-sack performance even more impressive, he finished with six quarterback hits, two forced fumbles, and four tackles for loss. Jones joined Aldon Smith (2012) as the only NFL players in the last 16 seasons to record five sacks, six quarterback hits, four tackles for loss, and two forced fumbles in a game. Jones had three sacks in the first quarter, becoming the first player in NFL history to record at least three sacks in the first quarter of a season-opener.
Prior to Jones, the quickest a Cardinals player had reached five sacks in a season was four games (Darnell Dockett in 2007; Bertrand Berry in 2005; Eric Swann in 1997; Curtis Greer in 1983). Jones reached that mark in the first three quarters of the season opener.
Jones is off to a hot start for a pass rusher, one of the best in NFL history. Jones became just the third player in NFL history - and the first in the last 23 years - to record at least five sacks in a season-opener, joining Derrick Thomas (six in 1998) and Bill Gay (5.5 in 1983). Thomas had just six sacks in the rest of that 1998 season (finished with 12) while Gay recoded 13.5 sacks in 1983, so an early start doesn't exactly indicate Jones' will break Michael Strahan's record of 22.5 sacks in a season.
With at least two sacks on Sunday, Jones will tie Antwan Odom (seven sacks in 2009) for the most sacks by a player through the first two weeks of a season since 1982. Odom finished with eight sacks in that 2009 season, but played just six games.
Most sacks -- Cardinals franchise history
- Curtis Greer (1980-1987) -- 69.5
- Freddie Joe Nunn (1985-1993) -- 66.5
- Chandler Jones (2016-Present) -- 66
- Calais Campbell (2008-2016) -- 56.5
- Bob Rowe (1967-1975) -- 54.5
*Per Pro Football Reference, which recorded sacks prior becoming an official stat in 1982
Jones needs just one sack to pass Freddie Joe Nunn (66.5) for second on the franchise's all-time sack list (the Cardinals and NFL will recognize him as the franchise's all-time sack leader since sacks became an official stat in 1982 and Greer's first two seasons are unofficial). Jones holds the single-season franchise record for sacks (19, 2019) and is the only player in Arizona history to have four 10-sack seasons. Jones has played just 70 career games with the Cardinals, making the feat even more impressive.
While Jones is still building his Hall of Fame resume, he's already established himself as the best pass rusher in Cardinals franchise history. Jones still has a lot of good football left -- and a massive contract awaiting him.