It’s hard to look at an NFL defensive end and not say he is the best athlete in his family. But in the Jones family, Chandler might take a backseat to his brother, Jon. The latter is the current light heavyweight champion in the UFC. Which means when it comes to the holidays, you can be sure there is plenty of jousting over who is the “better” athlete and which son plays the better sport.
This year, both Chandler brothers could have a very, very good year. As a third-year defensive end for the Patriots, this could be the season he puts it all together. The former Syracuse great is arguably the best defensive player on the Patriots team.
As strength and conditioning coach Harold Nash puts players through their warm-ups each day, Jones almost always has a smile on his face as he works at the end of the line, right next to Vince Wilfork. As the players do the sideline-to-sideline runs, Jones and Wilfork playfully race each other.
And on game days, Jones often breaks out in dance after a sack. He had 11½ last year, a team-high and the most by a Patriot since Mike Vrabel’s 12½ in 2007.
As Jones approached the reporters waiting for him Wednesday, the former Syracuse standout jokingly asked if he had anything on his face, just to make sure he wouldn’t be on camera looking less than his best.
Not surprisingly, when the first question came, a generic, “How’s camp going?” Jones said, “Camp is going amazing. I’m having a good time — I’m having a great time, actually. I’m excited for the season to start.”
He talked about how much it meant to him, the defense, and the team to have Wilfork back after missing the final 12 games and postseason last year with a torn Achilles’.
It is all too often that younger players are taken under the wing of veterans who offer guidance, advice and of course the occasional ribbing. But Jones’ success can be attributed from what he has watched and soaked in and of course, practiced against his own teammates and in live games during the season.
“I’ve been trying to work on a power rush, which generates from the legs,” he said. “And it helps with run-stopping because usually when you’re trying to stop the run, you’re trying to stand the [tackle] up and stop his momentum, and all that generates from the legs.
“So that’s the main reason why I was working on my legs. One of my weak points was run stopping, so I’m trying to work on that even more.”
Jones was able to get stronger without adding much bulk; he’s still close to the 260 pounds he played at last season. But going against linemen who routinely weigh 40-50 pounds more than he does, the added power will be put to good use.
That good use could lead to Jones having the best year of his career, which also weighs the question again – which Chandler brother is the better athlete?