03 August 2016
Only 11 times has an NFL player finished a single season with 20 or more sacks, but the Arizona Cardinals believe new outside linebacker Chandler Jones can make it 12 in 2016.
According to cornerback Patrick Peterson and defensive back Tyrann Mathieu, 20 sacks is an achievable goal for Jones this season.
“There’s no doubt about it,” Peterson said, via Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic. “He has that potential to be a 20-plus sack guy. … He’s in a contract year, too, so I know he’s going to be even that much hungrier.”
The Cardinals traded for Jones this offseason, sending former first-round pick Jonathan Cooper and a second-round pick to the New England Patriots in exchange for the Pro Bowl pass-rusher. Now, Jones will get a chance to wreck havoc in the NFC West. The Cardinals Super Bowl 51 lines have improved as a result.
“In this division, yeah, he can get 20 sacks,” Mathieu said. “In this division, they rely on their quarterbacks to make plays – i.e. San Francisco and Seattle. I just figure it like this: If (Dwight) Freeney had eight sacks in a backup role, Chandler should probably get 20 in a starting role.”
Mathieu's numbers are correct. Despite playing in only 11 games as a pass-rush specialist, Freeney still managed to register eight sacks. He added a ninth sack during Arizona's two playoff games.
A full-time player like Jones will have ample opportunity to get to the quarterback, especially given Arizona's talent in the secondary.
Jones produced a career-high 12.5 sacks over 15 games in 2015. He added four forced fumbles and an interception, leading to his first Pro Bowl selection.
But getting to 20 sacks won't be a walk in the park.
J.J. Watt and Justin Houston are the last players to register 20 sacks in a single season. The pair produced 20.5 and 22.0, respectively, in 2014. Only five players—Watt, Houston, DeMarcus Ware, Michael Strahan and Jared Allen—have hit the milestone since the turn of the century.
The Cardinals franchise record for sacks in a single season in 16.5, set by Simeon Rice in 1999.
Jones might not get to 20 in 2016, but he's clearly earned the unflinching respect of his new teammates in Arizona
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