The Las Vegas Raiders made the playoffs last season despite going through a ton of adversity, which is putting it lightly. The Raiders made the playoffs with an interim coach in arguably one of the toughest divisions in football. It doesn’t get much harder than the AFC West, especially when Patrick Mahomes is on top of this game.
Still, the Raiders decided to go in a different direction this offseason and boy did they. Las Vegas hired Josh McDaniels from the New England Patriots, re-signed Maxx Crosby to a massive deal, and traded for superstar wide receiver Davante Adams.
Considering those moves, signing Chandler Jones to a three-year, $51 million deal seems almost like an afterthought, but the veteran pass-rusher knows he’ll bring a ton to the table to Vegas in 2022 and beyond.
Chandler Jones believes he and Maxx Crosby can be a ‘dangerous’ duo
The thing about having one star pass-rusher in today’s NFL is that you really need two. Offenses have gotten really good at sliding coverages and using running backs and tight ends to chip on elite rushers. Those coverage schemes become obsolete when a defense can bring pressure off both edges, though. It’s almost impossible to block when a defense can get pressure from the defensive ends and somehow up the middle.
That’s the type of defense the Raiders are trying to build with the combination of Jones and Crosby on the edges.
Crosby was just given a massive four-year, $94 million contract by the Raiders thanks to three strong seasons in a row after the team, then in Oakland, drafted him in the 4th round of the 2019 NFL Draft out of Eastern Michigan.
He came out of the gate strong with 10 sacks and four forced fumbles in his rookie year. He notched seven sacks, a fumble recovery, and two blocked kicks in 2020 and secured 56 tackles, eight sacks, and 13.5 stuffs for the Raiders this past season.
Crosby is one of the better pass-disrupters in football, and now the Raiders are pairing him with a player who notched 10.5 sacks and six forced fumbles in his 10th NFL season, Jones.
Recently speaking SiriusXM NFL Radio, Jones relayed that being able to play with Crosby is one of the reasons he chose to sign with Vegas.
“Credit a lot to my decision the team success, the quarterback, obviously, having familiarity with the front office, and to have the opportunity to rush with the best up-and-coming defensive end in the NFL,” Jones said, as transcribed by NFL.com. “I’ve been watching his game, cutting up tape with him before I was his teammate, so now that we’re in the same room, I mean — that’s dangerous.”
Jones brings elite experience to the table for the Raiders as a pass-rusher
Even at 32-years-old, Jones projects to be one of the better pass-rushers in the NFL in 2022, and he’ll be even more dangerous now that he’s paired with Crosby.
Jones has spent the last six seasons with the Arizona Cardinals where he’s been absolutely dominant. Outside of the 2020 season that saw him play in only five games due to injury, the former first-round pick notched double-digit sacks every season he played for the Cardinals.
Notably, he secured 19 sacks, eight forced fumbles, and three fumble recoveries in 2019, all career highs.
Jones was a Pro Bowler three times with the Cardinals, including last season. He also has a Super Bowl win under his belt, though that came with the team that drafted him, the New England Patriots, in 2015.
“What I try to bring with myself is leadership, and not just leading by demand but leading by example,” Jones said. “Spreading that culture that I know. Telling the guys that the biggest goal is to win, which they do know, but winning — focusing on winning. That’s the best thing you can possibly do in this league is win. As long as the guys get that through and I’m sure they do, but as long as that’s preached to these guys, we’re gonna be good, we’ll be fine.”
Jones says he’ll ‘go through a wall’ for the Raiders
The Las Vegas organization already feels like home for Jones though he’s only been associated with it for a few weeks at this point.
In the interview, he said his career is going “around full circle”
That’s because even though he’s now playing within view of the Las Vegas desert, his career started in the snowy and cold northeast, where he has connections not just to McDaniels but others from his time with the Patriots.
That includes new defensive coordinator Pat Graham, who coached in New England from 2009-2015. New general manager Dave Ziegler, who is replacing Mick Mayock, also go his big breaks with the Patriots. The Raiders hired him away from his post as director of player personnel in New England.
McDaniels, Graham, and Ziegler were all in New England when Jones was drafted by the Patriots with the 21st pick of the 2012 NFL Draft.
“I feel amazing. It’s a dream come true,” Jones said of the reunion. “I was just sitting here talking with Pat Graham, I spoke with Dave Ziggy (Ziegler) and I talked to Josh McDaniels, and these guys have known me since I came into the league. I mean, these guys have known me since I was a puppy. They’ve known me almost like a decade ago.
“To have the opportunity for everything to come around full circle, for me to be on the same team with these guys, it credited to a lot of my decision. It gives me a lot of trust,” he continued.
“I trust this front office like no other and, like I said, It gives you the motivation to go through a wall for people like that.”