Some news and notes for this morning:
Waiting on Fallout From Jack Jones Incident
Heading into the 2023 season, the New England Patriots appeared to be poised to have a fairly deep secondary following the selection of first-round pick Christian Gonzalez in April’s draft, with seasoned veteran Jonathan Jones, and second-year players Jack Jones, and Marcus Jones rounding out a pretty solid group.
Obviously, things have, unfortunately, changed a little bit.
Following Jones’ arrest on Friday after the former Arizona State defensive back tried to get through security at Logan Airport with two loaded firearms, things are now a little muddy to say the least, and it remains to be seen just how much of a factor he’ll be in 2023.
The thing that may be difficult for Jones is likely going to be the legal penalty. Judging by some of the legal speculation circulating on Twitter, one of the items he was carrying was a large-capacity feeding device, which under Massachusetts state law, potentially constitutes a minimum prison sentence.
That definitely feels hard to imagine, but Jones’ record isn’t completely clean, and that will likely work against him as this continues to work itself out.
The other issue is obviously how it will affect his status with the team. As a fourth-round pick, it costs the Patriots little to suspend him and let the legal process play out. But the other part of this is that it likely doesn’t help Jones’ cause if there’s any truth to whatever run-ins he potentially had with Bill Belichick.
Of all people to be able to help him get through what’s probably about to be an extremely trying time, it likely doesn’t hurt to have a guy like him in his corner.
But clearly, how things play out in court will ultimately decide whether Jones appears with the team by midseason, or if his absence will potentially be longer.
Either way, what happened on Friday may have a significant ripple effect on the Patriots’ season, which certainly changes the outlook from where it was just one week ago.
The worst part is that it’s out of the team’s hands as Jones gets set for a new battle that won’t involve football for the time being.
Not the First Time For the Patriots
As for the Patriots, this clearly isn’t the first time they’ve been down this road. The Aaron Hernandez debacle aside (which was obviously a completely different situation), the more comparable situation was the arrest and jail sentence of former defensive back Alfonzo Dennard, who was the last player who fell into this category.
Dennard was arrested back on April 21, 2012, just days ahead of when he was selected by the Patriots in the seventh round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He was charged with assaulting a police officer after allegedly punching the officer, which was a a Class 3-A felony in Nebraska, along with misdemeanor resisting arrest, and misdemeanor assault.
The former Patriot’s situation was different from Jones. Dennard had nothing more than a speeding ticket on his record, and his crime didn’t hold a minimum penalty or punishment.
He was ultimately sentenced to a 30-day jail sentence, which he served in March of 2014, and it included 100 hours of community service.
Obviously, while every situation is different, that’s a bad precedent for Jones, especially given his history. Dennard had no previous run-ins with authorities and he still ended up serving time, so Jones may potentially have a problem on his hands depending on how things play out here in Massachusetts.
However, Belichick did stick with Dennard and it ended up being a knee injury that ultimately ended Dennard’s tenure with the team following that 2014 season.
As for Jones? Time will tell, but the optimism people had about New England’s defense certainly took a hit with this news, which will likely see the Patriots exploring their options on a contingency plan if they end up being without him for the foreseeable future.
Help For Jones Is the Challenge
Regardless of how people feel about a given situation, and it’s not exclusive to any race or background, whatever life Jones is involved with off the field is often extremely difficult to separate from. Even despite the fact he’s an NFL player and has so much going for him, it’s still hard not to try and consider it from that lens. We know he was caught up with the wrong crowd previously, although we don’t know where he is at the present time from that standpoint.
Anyone who remembers the Rolling Stone article on Hernandez may recall the lengths that the troubled player went through to try and break away from the crowd he was involved in, which included guidance and assistance from the team and Belichick as he struggled to get away from it.
Unfortunately, Hernandez ultimately fell too far, and the rest is history, with any sympathy for Hernandez instead rightfully shifting to the family of the lives he destroyed. But the Patriots appear to have at least done the best they could to help turn his life around prior to that.
If anything, they have experiences with both Dennard and Hernandez as two examples they can talk about with Jones when it comes to just how far off the rails things can go. Again, we don’t know what, if anything, is ahead of him from a legal standpoint, but it doesn’t change the fact that there will likely be some impact on his future and the goal is eventually going to be to minimize the damage moving forward.
For now, how he writes the next chapter is going to be up to him. But the goal is going to hopefully be to try and make sure he doesn’t become another NFL cautionary tale and that his story years from now includes a positive outcome.
Peppers Excited for 2023
Meanwhile, the rest of the Patriots secondary had made a lot of progress, with the safety position definitely being one of the more interesting areas ahead of this season.
With Devin McCourty having retired, New England is already preparing for life without him, and one of the biggest changes appears to be the fact they’re mixing various players in different roles, which is already making it a little tougher to decipher what they’re doing.
Jabrill Peppers spoke to reporters last week and that was one of the things he was most excited about. He told the media during his press conference that he’s eager to see where things are headed, given what he’s seen so far.
“I’ve never been a part of something so fast like that,” said Peppers. “But like I said, we’ve all been here. It’s my second year with the guys but they’ve been together even longer than that. So, you know, we’re just building off last year. We kind of brushed off the cobwebs a little bit, just to get guys back in the swing of things. But for the most part, we’re trying to build. Like, OTAs, that’s where you really, some guys really start to learn the defense, what the coach is asking from you, the expectations, the standard, but we already know that. So now we’re just trying to look for ways we can get ahead. How can we disguise, awareness, things here, things that we might not necessarily put our best foot forward last year. [Just] trying to take that next step.”
Peppers also said he feels healthy coming off the ACL injury he suffered two seasons ago, which is another positive sign given that he apparently didn’t suffer any setbacks in that area last season.
Belichick also praised the veteran last week, gushing about the progress he’s made in just one season.
“Yeah. Oh my god, yeah,” said Belichick. “He’s a much different player now than he was last year at this time or even in training camp.”
“A full year after the injury, a lot of confidence in the communication, the system, his assignments. He’s playing fast, aggressive, helping out his teammates. Last year he was trying to learn things, now he’s helping out his teammates, anticipating, making calls or adjustments that maybe help him or possibly help his teammate be in a better position to defend a certain play or type of play.”
“Yeah, he’s been great. He’s way ahead of where he was last year.”
Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: Alfonzo Dennard Jack Jones