It seems that every season, the Baltimore Ravens seem to have multiple impending free agents who have career years. This year is no exception.
Preparing to be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, fourth-year defensive end Arthur Jones has made the most of his opportunity as a fulltime player in 2013.
He may be the most improved defensive player on the team, and he is certainly playing his way out of Baltimore (in a good way).
Each week, Jones steadily improves, and he’s gone from a situational player who mainly helped in passing situations, to Baltimore’s most consistent and dominant force in run defense.
Haloti Ngata, Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil have all had their inconsistencies this season. But one man along the defensive front who hasn’t is Jones.
He isn’t Baltimore’s best defensive player, but he may be the most consistent.
Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots was Jones’ breakout game in run defense.
He has had no shortage of success as a run defender this year, but in a game where the Patriots willingly ran the ball against a formidable Ravens front, Jones was the one player holding the entire front seven together.
If the Ravens fail to make the playoffs, Sunday very well may be Jones’ last game as a Raven. Even if that happens, there’s no reason to fail to point out the immense improvement in his game since his rookie year.
Let’s take a look at how he handled New England’s offensive line in run defense on Sunday.
On a stretch play to the right, the left guard chips at Jones to take him out of the play.
Jones avoids the attempt to take him out, and he manages to keeps his eyes up and in the backfield the entire time.
He evades the chip and is in the opposite side of the backfield, bringing the ball carrier down for a minimal gain.
Later in the game, Jones uses his strength to evade a stand-up block by the right tackle.
He is already through his blocker and on his way into the backfield before New England quarterback Tom Brady even hands the ball off.
Before the running back can even accelerate, Jones is in position to make the tackle for a loss.
Jones’ success led to a few double-team blocks, which he handled with ease.
On a run play up the middle, Jones (circled) is double-teamed.
On this play, the left guard is to block Jones and then get up to the next level to seal off linebacker Jameel McClain.
Jones (with the help of what might have been a bit of a defensive hold) keeps the left guard on him long enough for McClain to make a play on the ball carrier.
Even though Jones didn’t make the final play on the ball, he did his job and allowed the linebackers to fill.
Jones is a player who is improving by the week, and it appears he is reaching his full potential in his fourth year in the league.
This is his first season as a regular starter, so he figures to only get better from here with more playing time.
He may not be in Baltimore next year, but Jones will certainly still be one of the better run-defending 3-4 defensive ends in the business.
Should Art move on, at least we’ll always have this: