After Vince Wilfork went down earlier in the season with a torn Achilles, many New England Patriots‘ fans were understandably concerned. They felt as though the defense would take a huge step back, particularly in run defense.
Fast forward to Week 8, and the team has not skipped a beat defensively with the exception of pass coverage. This is because of the temporary loss of Aqib Talib, coupled with the loss of Jerod Mayo for the rest of the season. Other than that, the Patriots’ defense is as strong as ever right now.
In fact, in recent weeks, a new player has emerged as a legitimate playmaker. That player is defensive tackle Chris Jones. At the start of this month, very few people even knew who Jones was. That has obviously all changed now, whether it be because of his excellent month of play, or the unfortunate penalty he was a part of on Sunday.
In relief of Wilfork so far this year, Jones has totaled 18 tackles and 3.5 sacks in just four games played. He has been a big help alongside Joe Vellano in run defense while also helping provide some pass rush from the interior. Prior to his arrival, that was something the team really struggled to do consistently.
Patriots fans should be commending Jones for what he has done in relief of Wilfork this year, not condemning him for an extremely rare penalty he might not have known about against the New York Jets. He looks like a diamond in the rough so far, and the Patriots’ defensive line looks to be in good shape going forward with him and Vellano.