Arizona isn’t just overhauling its offense in 2019. The defense is going back to the past.
Chandler Jones put up stellar numbers during Arizona’s miserable 3-13 season last year; thirteen sacks are nothing to sneeze at and still placed him tied for seventh-most in the NFL.
The 29-year-old pass rusher, however, is “very excited” to transition back from a defensive end in Steve Wilks’ 4-3 scheme to an outside linebacker in Vance Joseph’s 3-4 system.
“I know the last time I played outside linebacker, I led the NFL in sacks,” Jones told the team’s official website during an appearance at an anti-bullying assembly at Valencia Newcomer School in Phoenix on Tuesday.
In 2017, Jones led the NFL with 17 sacks from his outside linebacker spot. One of the few ex-New England Patriots who has continued to excel outside of Foxborough, Jones brings a difference-making pass rush to the Cards’ front and has discombobulated poor tackles in the NFC West for years.
Jones said he was up to 280 pounds heading into last season as a DE but has shed weight and is back down around 255 this offseason.
The edge-rushing menace believes the switch back to linebacker and the addition of a veteran rusher like Terrell Suggs will unleash him in 2019.
“No more double teams,” Jones said. “Someone with a big name like Terrell Suggs, it will be great for us. I’m excited to have him.”
With all due respect to T-Sizzle, Jones will still command the double teams from offensive coordinators. The 36-year-old Suggs should be the one benefiting from Jones’ presence on the opposite side. Combine the duo, and Arizona employs a fierce duo that should terrorize QBs in 2019.
The defensive changes are a reminder that despite all the attention on Kliff Kingsbury’s offense, Arizona isn’t only changing its O in hopes to forget the woeful 2018 campaign.
“Totally different team,” Jones said. “New coaches. New players. A lot of different faces and new positions. I’m excited to see what we have set for us. I think this is going to be good.”
Frankly, it couldn’t get much worse.