Packers 2017 Recap: S Josh Jones

The most athletic player in a draft class built almost entirely around athleticism, Josh Jones ended up playing a big role for the Packers defense in 2017.

With a mix of big plays and disappointing errors, he gave a tantalizing glimpse of what could be the future of the Packers’ defense.

2017 Stats

  • Appeared in 16 games with seven starts (731 snaps on defense, 156 on special teams)
  • 56 solo tackles, two sacks, one interception five passes defensed

Expectations going into the season: Moderate
Expectations were: Met

Analysis: Jones gives an inconsistent glimpse of big potential

“As rookie minicamp gets underway,” we wrote this spring, “[Josh] Jones may have an unusual advantage over his draft counterpart: while [Kevin] King has a very specific job, Jones will get opportunities to contribute all over the field.

“While this could sound like it puts a lot of pressure on Jones, the reverse may actually be true. By lining him up in a variety of positions, the Packers will be giving Jones opportunities to succeed in smaller roles, ones built for his skill set.”

Early on, this looked prescient. Jones lined up in the Packers’ “Nitro” package on defense, playing as a hybrid linebacker. There, he made life difficult for opposing quarterbacks, specifically Andy Dalton, whom he took down twice in the Packers’ Week 3 over the Bengals.

Jones added 11 tackles along with his two sacks that day, marking the first breakout performance for one of the Packers’ 2017 rookies. It looked like big things were on the way for Jones.

Instead, it was merely the high water mark for his season.

Jones never managed a performance remotely close to his effort against the Bengals. Frequently victimized in coverage and a walking penalty machine on special teams, Jones made at least one bad play for every good one he contributed.

Against the run, he frequently ran himself out of plays as often as into them, proving that even his prodigious athleticism could be a double-edged sword.

Jones provides compelling evidence that naming something before you know if it will succeed is often a dangerous path. The “Nitro” package sounded fun and exotic, but it’s possible it raised expectations a bit too high just because of the novelty factor.

If Jones was merely allowed to be the player he’s capable of being, he may have found more success in 2017. Perhaps 2018 will tell a different story.