Cardinals and Kyler Murray set to face Raiders’ Chandler Jones

LAS VEGAS — Chandler Jones has given different names to each of his rushing moves for years and one of them, Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury recalled, was something called the “Snapchat.”

“That one was pretty good,” Kingsbury said. “It’s like you see it and it seemingly disappears. I don’t have Snapchat, but I heard it was like that.

After slimming it down over the past six seasons with the Cardinals – becoming the franchise’s all-time leader in sacks (71½) and leads the league in forced fumbles (23) and sacks (21) during this time – Jones also disappeared and reappeared this season as a free agent with the Raiders.

Luckily, he’s the one the Cardinals will meet on Sunday at Allegiant Stadium. It’s a place that has been called “the Death Star” by some and in the eyes of the Cardinals, Jones is Darth Vader. His 107½ sacks since entering the league in 2012 are the most scored by anyone in that span and you’ll have to forgive Kingsbury for being a little wary.

“He texted me the other night,” Kingsbury said, “and I just texted him saying, ‘Don’t blame me when we ship you with the tight end and the (back ) every game.” We will try to manage it, but they have two Hall of Fame runners and we understand that, so we have to have a good plan.

As dangerous as Jones has been over the years, Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray also needs to be aware of the defensive end on Jones’ other side, Maxx Crosby. He had 25 sacks in his first three NFL seasons and was named to the Pro Bowl last season, where he had two sacks, three tackles for loss and three assists to earn Defensive MVP of the Game honors. .

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) throws under pressure from Maxx Crosby (98) of the Las Vegas Raiders during the first half of an NFL playoff football game Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022, at Cincinnati.  (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

The 5-foot-10 Murray had two reverse passes at the line of scrimmage in last week’s 44-21 loss to the Chiefs and between the 6-5 Jones and the 6-4 Crosby he will have to find ways to passing open when in the pocket or even throwing away.

“It hadn’t been a big deal for us,” Kingsbury said of the slapped passes, “but they do a great job if they can’t go home with their hands up and they’re at both tall, physical and athletic.. They are definitely a presence even when they get close to him.

Arizona Cardinals linebacker Chandler Jones hugs rookie quarterback Kyler Murray (1) after the end of day one of training camp July 25, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona.

Murray and Jones have forged a close friendship during their three years together in Arizona and they each said last week that it was going to be “weird” to play against each other.

“It’s going to be fun,” Murray said. “Chan is a great guy, one of the best teammates I’ve even had the pleasure of playing with. It will be weird and different to see him in a new uniform, but at the end of the day he has a job and I have a job. We can cut it out after the match, but when we are on the pitch, that’s how it is.

“I’ll try to do my best to avoid it, but I don’t really expect to see it, I’ll say it.”

The Cardinals let Jones go as a free agent because they didn’t think they could afford to keep him and couldn’t be sure his production would continue at age 32. His last season with the team a year ago was somewhat turbulent because Jones, judging by the absence of contract negotiations, his end in Arizona was numbered.

If he’s got a grudge, you can’t tell judging from his conversation with reporters in Las Vegas on Thursday.

“It’s another week, honestly,” Jones said. “It will be fun and I will get the chance to play against my old team, but it starts Week 2 and hopefully we can get back into the win column this week.”

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January 9, 2022;  Glendale, Arizona, USA;  Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Chandler Jones (55) pressures a pass from Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) in the first half at State Farm Stadium.

Jones, whose 71½ sacks with the Cardinals from 2016-21 rank third behind only Aaron Donald of the Rams (78) and TJ Watt of the Steelers (72), seemed more interested in lining up against Murray, the lone player in the NFL history with 70 or more passing touchdowns and 20 or more rushing touchdowns in his first three seasons.

“Kyler is a one-of-a-kind player and it’s hard to look good against Kyler,” Jones said. “He does things that are not common. He has a strong arm and he is very quick, but hopefully we can keep up with him for sure.

Asked about his relationship with Murray, Jones said: “Kyler lets his game do the talking and that’s one thing I admire about Kyler. He shows up every Sunday and he plays well, and he does everything he can to help his team. I hope he doesn’t help the team this week, but we’ll see what happens.

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January 9, 2022;  Glendale, Arizona, USA;  Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Chandler Jones (55) enters the field against the Seattle Seahawks during the second quarter.

Jones left an indelible mark on many in and around the Cardinals organization and according to the Raiders he did the same in his first season in Las Vegas. It’s not just his work ethic and laid-back personality in the locker room, but it’s his ability to connect with anyone and everyone.

“He was someone I really liked because coming from the college ranks he always embraced me and being a team leader meant a lot to me,” Kingsbury said. “He just had great energy, always smiled, always treated everyone in the building incredibly well. And then he played so well for this franchise. We have a ton of respect for him.

Cardinals second-year outside linebacker Victor Dimukeje, a sixth-round pick from Duke, credits Jones for helping him take a huge leap forward in the depth chart this year. Dimukeje paid close attention to everything Jones did during practice and between games, looking for tips and tricks to help elevate his own output as a passing thrower.

“He was a great mentor to me,” he said. “He’s one of the best guys to ever play this game when it comes to rushing passes, so that’s the one to learn from.”

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Murray knows how valuable Jones is as an asset to his own and as a threat to the opposition. He saw it first hand.

“He’s a student of the game,” Murray said. “He loves it. He’s like a Zen master when it comes to the art of rushing and all the different ways to get to the quarterback. He loves educating other up-and-coming pass rushers. … He It’s hard not to respect that.

At kickoff, however, Jones will be Jones and that likely means he’ll talk trash and give Murray a listening ear.

“I hope not,” Murray said. “I’m just going to laugh at him. He’s one of my best friends on the pitch, so it’ll be fun. I think he might try to make some remarks in there, but it won’t affect me.

More news on the cardinals: QB Murray hopes to throw more at Hollywood Brown, others more regularly | Cardinals try to fix defense ‘working’ after Week 1

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