New England Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones (95) rushes against the Miami Dolphins during the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots Camp 3: Chandler Jones, RBs

Here are three assorted thoughts on the New England Patriots as we head into training camp, and this is something I’ll do every so often as a brainstorming session of sorts. The number will change based on how “meaty” each of the thoughts are, and it is evident that the first thought was exceptionally long and hopefully a bit thought-provoking.

1. Friend of the site Mike Dussault of Pats Propaganda  partially inspired this type of piece by writing down his random musings heading into camp, and one of them dealt with tempering expectations about Chandler Jones becoming the next DeMarcus Ware or Jason Pierre-Paul type pass rusher next season. That led to me tweeting to him that I view Jones as more of a Michael Bennett kind of player than JPP or Ware, which is probably a controversial statement for some (especially those who don’t know how good Michael Bennett is, although I doubt you underrate him as much as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers do).

We all talk about Jones’s pass rushing ability, and he has plenty of upside in that regard. He was also a pretty good pass rusher as a rookie before that ankle injury, and he will have to be a great pass rusher if he wants to be regarded as an elite end in this league. If Jones could even rush the passer like Ware or JPP in even his fifth year as a player, then I would be happy. Obviously the sooner the more incredible, but I’d like to temper our expectations of Jones a little bit. Just because a player has that sort of ceiling doesn’t mean we should loft those sorts of expectations upon said player, and there’s also a part of Jones’s game that widely goes overlooked.

Listen, Chandler Jones is an excellent run defender. He could blossom into one of the best two-way DEs in the NFL, and a couple of fools would still try and dub him as a disappointment because he doesn’t get the sexy sack numbers. Sacks are overrated, while consistent pressure isn’t and run defense is underrated at DE. That’s why players like Bennett don’t get as much praise as they should. As a rookie, Jones was even better against the run than the pass, and that was a pleasant surprise for many. I think Jones will end up as double-digit sack player (giving a rough estimate on sacks, since that’s easiest to guess at) and a very good pass rusher, but he’s going to be more of a slightly better version of Bennett than the next JPP. But, of course, there is a chance he ends up being the next elite DE; we just shouldn’t expect that to happen.

2. Brandon Bolden is another rookie that started the season hot last year before fading away due to an issue (his was PEDs), and he has the slight edge over LeGarrette Blount to start. But here’s the thing, Blount once ran for 1,000 yards in a season and brings an element of elusiveness and home-run ability that the Patriots don’t have, aside from Shane Vereen as a pass-catcher. Can Vereen run like Blount? Maybe. If his rushing ability has improved from where it was last year, then he could help Bolden hold off Blount. But I believe the Patriots will keep five running backs, because all five bring something different to the table (Bolden is a consistent rusher- the anti-Blount- and is a bruiser) and are all talented.

3. For some reason, I want to question the Patriots offensive line depth, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. If you classify Marcus Cannon as an offensive tackle, then the Pats are four-deep there but would need to add Nick McDonald‘s younger brother Chris (UDFA) on the roster. If he is a guard, then they will roll with three OTs. That’s how I see it shaking out, and the Patriots are lucky that Cannon has the versatility to play at guard or tackle. If you have versatility on the line, then that can make up for a lack of depth.

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Tags: Brandon Bolden Chandler Jones LeGarrette Blount Marcus Cannon New England Patriots NFL Offseason

  • Paul V. Suffriti

    I believe that Chandler Jones will benefit from an improved D-line specifically from the addition of DT Kelly and Armstead. They will demand more attention to protect the QB and the DE position may become more effective if the pocket collapses or the QB is unable to step up in the pocket. I expect Chander to have 12+ sacks this year because of the improvements made to the defense as a whole. If the back-end of the defense can cover effectively (and I think they will), then the QB will have to hold on to the ball for a split second longer which could make the difference between a hurried pass and a sack. If the DBs can work together and provide effective coverage, then we may see more schemes and stunts this year from our talented LBs.

  • Tj Kollett

    umm.. I think that you made an error.. Legarrette Blount is not a home run threat, is not elusive, and absolutely cannot catch the ball out of the backfield. He is a power back with decent speed for his size. Bolden is just as likely, if not more likely, than Blount to get a long run (20+ yards). I don’t think either contribute this year but they both have something to offer. I think you may be thinking of Leon Washington? Blount is like 240 lbs.

    • Joe Soriano

      Blount is not a power-back, and that is a common misconception. Yes, he has the frame of someone who looks like a bruising back, but you need to go back and watch the tape of his rookie season or at least peruse the Pro Football Focus. Blount is not a good pass-catcher out of the backfield at all, but that’s just about the only thing we can agree upon here.

      • Tj Kollett

        I think we disagree on what a home run threat is. To me, it is a back who can score on any given play due to his speed, elusiveness, pass catching ability, etc. Blount has had a few long rushes but they are not due to his speed. He doesn’t consistently get those long runs. He has good speed, elusiveness, etc. for his size but that doesn’t make him a home run threat. Good article though I like the Bennett Jones comparison. It’s much more likely he becomes a better pass rushing version of Bennett than a JPP, etc. With Woodhead gone I think the Patriots need to worry about developing Vereen. I have no doubt that Blount could easily contribute this year but his carries would just take away from Vareen’s.