FOXBORO -- When the wheels were coming off for the Patriots in the first quarter of their Sunday night win over Denver, Chandler Jones' motor was unaffected. When the first quarter was over he had three tackles, including a sack and a tackle for a loss on Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno.
The second-year defensive end has shown a consistent effort level coming off of the edge for the Patriots all season, and on Wednesday he was recognized as the AFC's Defensive Player of the Month. Through three games in November, Jones has 16 tackles and four sacks to bring his season sack total to 10.5.
Moments before the award was announced, Bill Belichick praised Jones for his steadiness following a rookie season in which he finished with six sacks.
"Chandler's played much more constantly this year than last year," Belichick said. "I thought he did a lot of good things last year, too, but his game has come up and we've asked him to do more. He's taken on more responsibilities, played in different positions, but I think he's having a solid season. Comes to work everyday, he's improved on a consistent basis, and like I said, we've asked him to do different things, he's worked hard at those and gotten better at them. That's helped our team."
Jones has been spotted at a variety of spots along New England's defensive line through 11 games. He's played defensive end in New England's 4-3 scheme. He's lined up inside. He's been strong against the run in both three and four-man fronts.
He's also shouldered more of the leadership load on the Patriots defensive line ever since Vince Wilfork (Achilles) and Tommy Kelly (knee) went down with season-ending injuries.
"I think he's done a good job of trying to step up and be more vocal," Belichick said. "Without Vince in there, the communication is certainly fallen more on Rob [Ninkovich] and Chandler. Again, communication is an 11-man job, not just a one-man job, and they're a key part of it. Because of their experience and their overall playing skill. But their level of experience . . . Chandler is certainly more capably and ready to do it than last year, and we need him to do it."