Keeping Jones in perspective


Keeping Jones in perspective

We're only a week into the season, but here's one thing I know for sure about the 2012 Patriots: Chandler Jones is going to test everyone's patience.

In a good way, of course.

You see, the problem with Jones is that he already feels too good to be true. From the moment he took the field in Week 1 of the preseason and made Saints Pro Bowler Jermon Bushrod look like George W. Bush we all knew that he was something special. Not only for his skills as a football player, but for how rare those specific skills are to the New England Patriots. Jones is a young, exciting, powerful and potentially dominant outside pass rusher. AKA, someone the Pats have lacked for the better part of eternity. So when we saw this monster blowing up the Saint offensive line, it was damn near impossible not to get carried away. He looked like the guy that Pats fans have waited their whole lives for.

But everyone fought the good fight, and tempered expectations as much as humanly possible. After all, it was only one preseason game.

And now, it's only been one regular season game, but the temptation to crown Jones as a savior on the Pats defensive line is stronger than ever. Again, so much of that is a matter of New England never having the pleasure of watching a guy with his skill set. Or at least not on the Pats. For the last decade, we've seen how guys like Dwight Freeney, Jason Taylor and, more recently, Jason Pierre-Paul wreak havoc on another team's game plan. As opposing fans, we're far too familiar with what it's like to know a pass rusher of that caliber lurking on the other side of your quarterback. And the idea that someone like that might finally play for the Patriots is so foreign that it's almost beyond description. It makes it so hard to keep both feet on the ground. But we'll keep trying. And hopefully Jones will keep doing his best to make sure we don't succeed.

Anyway, in a moment of weakness, I looked up some all-time Patriots sack records. Just a few things to keep in mind as Jones moves along on this promising rookie campaign:

Most sacks in a season by a Patriots rookie: Garin Veris, 10 (1985)
Most sacks in a season by a Patriot: Andre Tippet, 18.5 (1984)
Most sacks in a career by a Patriot: Tippet, 100

Here's hoping all three records fall this season.

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Van Noy sees playing-time bump as he learns Patriots language


Van Noy sees playing-time bump as he learns Patriots language

When Kyle Van Noy was traded to the Patriots in late October, he had a lot to learn. He needed to understand the layout of his new team's maze-like facility. He needed to adjust to a new locker room. He needed to adapt to a new home. 

He also had to become fluent in a new language.

The former Lions 'backer was inactive for two weeks before he was comfortable enough with the Patriots system -- and the coaching staff was comfortable enough with him -- to get on the field. He played 29 snaps against the Niners in first game with his new club, then saw 28 plays against the Jets. On Sunday he saw his role expand as he played 40 of a possible 51 plays, which was more than Shea McClellin (38) or Dont'a Hightower (33). 

"Kyle has done a great job of working really hard to acclimate to what we’re doing, and he has had to learn really fast as far as the system, the communication, the language," said defensive coordinator Matt Patricia on a conference call Tuesday. "It’s like when you go to a different system, offensively or defensively, a lot of times it’s just learning the vernacular and the verbiage . . . That’s a big part of it. Then getting more familiar with that kind of terminology and the communication is critical because there’s a lot of calls and adjustments, things like that that we’ve got to do on the field."

Van Noy was making some of those calls himself on Sunday as he wore the green dot on his helmet when Hightower was on the sidelines. Even with the added responsibility, Van Noy was able to play freely enough that he put together what might have been the best game of his three-year career. 

Used at the end of the line of scrimmage as well as in a more traditional off-the-line linebacker role, Van Noy was effective in defending both the pass and the run: He stuffed three Rams rush attempts, he recorded a quarterback hit that led to an incompletion, he drew a holding call, and he recorded an athletic interception when he tracked a wobbling Jared Goff pass that floated over the middle after Jabaal Sheard hit Goff's arm as the rookie released his throw.

After several of his stand-out plays, Van Noy was visibly excited on the field and later on the sidelines. It was the culmination of six weeks of work, learning as much as he could from a coaching staff that was eager to teach him. 

"He’s extremely prideful in his work and his approach to the game," Patricia said. "He’s very cerebral. He’ll ask a lot of questions. He really wants to understand what we’re doing and why, which is great. We’re trying to give him those answers and insight into kind of where some of this either came from or developed or situations like that so that’s really good."