The Greatness of Adam Jones

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Oct 11, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Adam Jones (24) against the Seattle Seahawks at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 27-24. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Adam Jones, the Cincinnati Bengals’ corner and return specialist, is truly great. The passion, ability and overall production that “Pacman” puts in every week has been one of the key components of Cincinnati’s success throughout the past couple of years. While Adam Jones is entering his 9th season, he hasn’t shown even the slightest bit of decline; in fact, Pacman is seemingly getting better with age.

Early in his career, Jones came out of West Virginia as a Big East Special Teams Player of the Year and a First Team All Big East player. The Tennessee Titans selected Jones in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft with the sixth overall selection. However, after a promising rookie year, Pacman’s off-field issues caught up to him; Jones was suspended for the entirety of the 2007 season, a season that would have been the third in his career.

Despite showing progress and posting career highs in his sophomore season, Adam Jones became expendable in the Titans’ eyes. Tennessee viewed Jones’ character and off-field issues as a major concern and as a result, the Titans ended up trading Jones to the Dallas Cowboys, only receiving a fourth-round draft pick in return.

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After a short season in Dallas, Jones’ off-field issues caught up to him once again, and as a result, the Cowboys released him. With his character in question and his lack of on-field production due to suspensions and injuries, Jones’ career was practically over.  Jones, once a young player with sky-high potential and promise, couldn’t hook on to another team in 2009. However, after a year out of football, Adam Jones was given a last chance in 2010, latching onto the Cincinnati Bengals’ roster.

Although it hasn’t been perfect, Jones enjoyed a career resurgence in Cincinnati and has become an electric difference-maker on the Bengals. Every time he walks onto the field as a returner, Bengals’ fans race, hoping for a game-changing return. He’s made some huge plays, including an interception of a Tom Brady pass to seal the Bengals’ victory over the Patriots in 2013, several key punt and kick returns in the 2014 season on his way to a Pro Bowl berth as a return specialist and a spectacular performance against the Oakland Raiders in 2015, in which he recorded 10 tackles, a pass deflection and a forced fumble.

It’s astounding that Adam Jones isn’t back on every punt return. He’s clearly the best returner on the Bengals, and the argument can be made that he’s the best return man in the NFL. But because he plays on both defense and special teams, Jones occasionally has to sit and watch as Brandon Tate returns the occasional punt or kickoff.

Coach Lewis eventually had to answer by saying, “Darrin [Simmons] and I always have discussed it during the week,” Lewis responded. “He understands what I’m thinking, and we stay to the plan. Sometimes Adam can be a little winded from a third-down play and it may change from our original thought. Brandon [Tate] got one yesterday that generally Adam would have returned, but Adam was at the point of attack on a third-down play and wasn’t quite ready. A returner has to be in the right frame of mind, and be able to handle the whole situation all the time.”

Oct 18, 2015; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Adam Jones (24) during the game against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

“He’s an excellent punt returner,” Lewis said of Jones. “He’s hard for one person to bring down. He runs strong for a guy of his stature, has great acceleration and vision. He’s a handful. Every time someone kicks a ball to him, we know that if we do a good job, we have an opportunity to gain good field position.”

In 2015, number 24 has averaged 12.8 yards per punt and has totaled 193 yards on kick returns, which both rank first among Bengals players. Even though he is not back to return every kickoff or punt, Adam Jones is simply Cincinnati’s best returner. However, he’s more than just a return man.

Adam Jones is not just the Bengals’ top return man; he’s also the team’s top cornerback. Through seven games of the 2015 season, Jones ranks second on the team in tackles (41), his two interceptions rank second among Bengals players,  and he’s also recorded a sack, a forced fumble and seven pass deflections. He’s been playing so well that he even made our Quarter Pole All-NFL team. And while Jones may not end up making the Pro Bowl as a corner (although he could–be sure to vote for him right here), he’s still a reliable cover corner and a sure tackler who rarely gives up the big play.

At age 32, Adam Jones is the Bengals’ top corner and the top returner. While he still has the occasional off-field issue and can be a hothead at times on the field, Adam Jones has been a solid addition to a Bengals team and a reliable fixture in the lineup. He seems to have found himself in Cincinnati; this is a huge testament to Marvin Lewis and his coaching staff, who took a chance on a player every other team did not want to involve itself with. And because Lewis took the chance, he now has one of the league’s most versatile and dynamic players at his disposal on a week-to-week basis; it’s a win-win situation.

Next: 10 Bengals Who Should Make the Pro Bowl

Regardless of the penalties, Adam Jones is still beloved in Cincinnati. He has made a home in the Queen City and will likely play for the Bengals throughout the rest of his career. A pending free agent after the 2015 season, Jones could be one of the first Bengals to earn a new contract, despite his age. And if Jones somehow doesn’t end up continuing his career in Cincinnati, the Bengals’ staff, players and fans will surely be glad to have been able to witness and experience the greatness of Adam Jones.

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