Brad Jones Raymond T. Rivard photograph

Brad Jones: Green Bay Packers linebacker is flying under the radar

Brad Jones amongst NFL’s underrated linebackers. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

 

Ted Thompson made a calculated gamble when he resigned Brad Jones for $11.75 million over three seasons and gave veteran Desmond Bishop and promising second year men D.J. Smith and Terrell Manning their walking papers.

Green Bay saved roughly $3.5 million by cutting Bishop, but Packers fans were understandably worried about depth at the inside position. Brad Jones has done a suitable job at easing worries by Packers Nation.

In my assessment, outside of releasing Brett Favre in favor of Aaron Rodgers, this ranks as one of Thompson’s best decisions as Packers general manager.

Since his full-time move inside, Brad Jones has been to run-stopping, as Clay Matthews has been to pass rushing for the Packers.

In 2012, Jones played 687 snaps. According to Pro Football Focus, Jones was the NFC’s 7th best inside-backer against the run.

Jones, a Colorado Buffalo, was drafted in the 7th round of the 2009 NFL Draft. Originally slated as an outside linebacker in the Packers 3-4 defense, he has found his niche alongside A.J. Hawk as inside linebacker.

Jones was forced to learn his new inside position quickly. As the Packers began their 2012 campaign by placing Desmond Bishop on season-ending injured reserve with a hamstring tendon tear, Jones and second year man D.J. Smith split snaps inside next to Hawk.

After D.J. Smith suffered a season-ending ACL tear in the Packers 42-24 Week 6 victory against Houston, Jones was the last man standing.

Jones, who prides himself on being a “high-motor player,” has accounted for 10 stops on 67 run-snaps in 2013. Through three games he is tops on the Packers in tackles with 26, and his 14.9 percent stop rate, good for fifth overall amongst ILBs, puts him in the same breath as Luke Kuechly of the Carolina Panthers.

Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers has offensive coordinators looking for new ways to run on Packers. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Against Cincinnati, Jones got the Packers turnover party started by forcing a fumble and later recovering a fumble. Jones attributes his strip of Bengals TE Jermaine Gresham to Packers’ coaches continued emphasis on forcing fumbles.

Jones’ play has carried over to the Packers run-stopping as a whole. Through three games, the Packers have allowed 93.3 rushing yards per game. That’s good enough to put the Packers unit in the top 10 of NFL run defenses.

For interested Packer fans, Desmond Bishop has played in 29 snaps for the Minnesota Vikings while DJ Smith remains unsigned after being released by San Diego Sept. 1.

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Tags: Brad Jones Green Bay Packers Ted Thompson

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