Packers 2016 Recap: OLB Datone Jones

2016 Stats

  • Appeared in 15 games, started 4 games
  • 22 tackles, 1 sack, 2 passes defended
  • Pro Football Focus: 69.2/100 (61 of 109 qualified edge defenders)

Expectations going into the season: High
Expectations were: Not Met

Analysis: A switch to outside linebacker doesn’t change much

Datone Jones switched roles in the Packers defense last November, and the early results before this season were promising. Given a full offseason to refine his craft from interior defensive lineman to a hybrid elephant role where he would occasionally line up as an outside linebacker, Jones was unable to keep up the positive momentum.

When Green Bay chose to move on from another defensive lineman turned linebacker in Mike Neal, the expectation was that Jones would fill that role in the Packers defense. The similarities between the two were evident. Both were odd fits at their original position within Dom Capers’ scheme and were seeking to earn a second NFL contract.

Jones was part of the rotation at both defensive line and outside linebacker, but he didn’t necessarily see his playing time increase when Clay Matthews missed three games in the middle of the year. 

The fourth-year pro is known as a better pass rusher than run defender. As a pass rusher, his statistical production wasn’t quite there with only one sack. There were high expectations for Jones to come into his own this season following a strong end to last season, and it just didn’t happen. At times, Jones blended in so well it was easy to forget he was one of the team’s pass rushers.

Now at the conclusion of his fourth and final year of his rookie contract, it’s time to see what free agency will hold for the former first round draft pick. Jones was a reliable defender who played well enough to at least belong on an NFL roster next season.