Jeff Howe has brought New England Patriots fans great news. Howe recently tweeted that New England Patriots top-flight rookie defensive end Chandler Jones will not need surgery on his ankle this offseason, per a source.
Jones injured his ankle against the Indianapolis Colts in mid-November, and he was never the same until Week 16 after a monstrous performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars. But in his first postseason game, Jones injured his other ankle against the Houston Texans. If he injured the same ankle twice, then Jones would have most likely underwent offseason surgery after his rookie year.
Last season, Jones was the best defensive end on the Patriots (yes, I think he was better than Rob Ninkovich…but not by much) as their most consistent pass rushing threat. Ninkovich had the sacks, but Jones was probably the only consistent pass rusher on this team. Ninko brings pressure in quick bursts and generates big fumbles and solid sack counts, but Jones also gets his fair share of fumbles. Jones isn’t quite as good at run defense, but he’s still one of the best 4-3 DEs in the game against the run. Meanwhile, Ninkovich might the best in the NFL in that regard.
But here’s the great thing about Chandler Jones, he’s just a rookie and is significantly younger than Ninkovich. There is so much upside that Jones can still tap into as a pass rusher, and the ridiculously good thing for Patriots fans is that Jones was supposed to be a weak run defender coming out of Syracuse.
The ankle injuries significantly hampered Jones after the first injury against the Colts, which means that we haven’t even seen the best from Jones yet. The Patriots would be wise to rest him through OTAs or at least limit his production. I can’t wait to watch Jones’s development in year two, and he has a chance to be the next breakout star in the league. But please, don’t invoke J.J. Watt‘s name and get overzealous. Wait, did I just do that? I guess that’s your call to make.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.