Chandler Jones is a perfect fit for the Raiders
They were always in competition. Who could eat the fastest. Who could run to the fridge the fastest. Everything three brothers could imagine to challenge each other.
Chandler Jones was the youngest.
Which means he finished a lot last.
“It led to my success,” he said. “It made me better. You just have to grow up and have that work ethic instilled at an early age. It’s just second nature.
So is it for him: to rank among the fiercest pass rushers in the NFL.
If wide receiver Davante Adams was the crown jewel of the Raiders’ offseason trades, consider Jones himself a pretty valuable gem. Adding a Pro Bowl defensive end to the one you already have tends to open your eyes and make the opposing quarterback sweat a little more.
Maxx Crosby should have some serious company in the backfield this coming season.
Small town, big dreams
Jones was born in Rochester, New York, and is a product of Endicott, a village that sits along the Susquehanna River and a handshake from nearby Binghamton and Johnson City. The country is said to be made up of such small towns and big dreams. Jones certainly knows the latter.
He was one of those kids who, at a young age, said his goal was to play in the NFL. Has he ever.
Jones will soon enter his 11th season and continues to build on what could one day prove a Hall of Fame resume, a Super Bowl champion with 107.5 career sacks and four Pro Bowls.
“He’s a real professional,” Raiders defensive line coach Frank Okam said. “You see how he runs for the ball. He leads by example with this effort. And I think that’s what speaks to his longevity in his career and why he’s been so successful for so long.
Jones signed a three-year contract with the Raiders worth more than $51 million ($34 million guaranteed), the brother of former NFL defensive lineman/Super Bowl champion Arthur Jones and former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, arguably the greatest fighter in history.
It must have been serious arguments between brothers at the time.
“We’re still training,” Chandler Jones said.
What the Raiders are hoping is that there is still plenty of gas left in the tank for Jones at 32, that he remains the player who has had double-digit sacks in five of six seasons with the club. ‘Arizona. That the all-time leader in Cardinals history can match or surpass the 10.5 he put up last season.
The guy was 17 in 2017 and 19 two years later. He is after.
“Chandler has been amazing since (he) came here,” Crosby said. “He’s a great leader. I constantly ask him questions. He asks me stuff all the time and it confuses me because I look at his career and it’s something I aspire to do. He’s been amazing since day one.
There’s a familiarity with new personnel, with Jones having played in New England when Raiders coach Josh McDaniels and defensive coordinator Patrick Graham were also members of the Patriots Way.
Now, all are united in their quest to make the Raiders a consistent winner and playoff contender. You can do much worse than Jones on one side and Crosby on the other to start such a journey.
“I get butterflies every day,” Jones said. “It shows that I love the game, I love the sport, I want to do well… I don’t want to walk around and say, ‘You know what I can do. It’s like, ‘What have you done for me lately? What can you do for me now? I understand that. I’m proud of it.
“I come to work every day with a smile on my face and to perfect my craft.”
Damn. He might even be able to eat the fastest and reach the fridge first now.
Ed Graney is a Sigma Delta Chi Award winner for sports writing and can be contacted at [email protected] He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, 7-10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.