April 24, 2017 by adamburt13
All eyes will be on Cyrus Jones this season after a disappointing performance as a rookie. (Courtesy of John Wilcox)
Written by Adam Burt
Cyrus Jones didn’t have a very productive rookie season for the New England Patriots. It wasn’t that expectations were overly high, but being selected 60th overall in the 2016 NFL draft out of Alabama, fans seemed optimistic that they would at least potentially get a solid slot corner with some special teams experience.
After his 2016-17 rookie season, which included numerous muffed punts with the special teams unit and limited time in the Patriots defensive backfield, it was clear that wasn’t the case.
Standards are high in New England. As the new guy your leash is already short and if you mess up a few times you are almost run out of town and harassed on social media. The reasoning for this is New England and Boston sports fans set such a high standard for their athletes and teams. Jones still has potential and the athletic ability is all there, but can he get his mind right to improve and block out the noise in preparation for a successful bounce-back season?
Coming from a successful school, Jones was used to being in bowl games and feeling triumphant. Most would think he was handed a golden chance to continue winning ways when he was drafted to New England who went on to win Super Bowl 51 this past season.
Although Playing in only 10 regular season games, and missing five out of the last six including the Super Bowl, Jones found himself going through a tough time being sidelined for his performance which is something he has never experienced before.
In an interview with the Baltimore Sun, Jones was asked about his thoughts on being a Super Bowl champion and receiving a Super Bowl ring. Jones stated, “I’ll never take credit for something I don’t feel I contributed to, I was part of the team, but I didn’t feel a part of it.”
The 23 year-old rookie also said, “I honestly felt cursed, I reached a point where I didn’t even want to play. I just didn’t have it. What I did this year was not me. I don’t care how anybody tries to sugarcoat it. Yes, I was a rookie. But I feel I should always be one of the best players on the field, no matter where I am.” There is no denying the kid is out for greatness.
As a senior return man at Alabama he was the NCAA leader with four touchdowns returning. But during his 10 games with New England he fumbled five times on 10 returns bringing them out for a disappointing total of 42 yards.
Jones went from winning a national championship in his final season at Alabama and being named defensive MVP in the Cotton Bowl against Michigan State, to being benched for poor on field performance. Quite the turn of events in the span of just a year for Jones who was always been used to playing in the spotlight. This should have been plenty enough of a wake up call for the rookie.
With that being said, it seems to most fans through recent news that Jones is not close to satisfied with his performance. He is on the right mental path to working hard and grinding out the offseason to come back stronger, quicker and with a clear mind once training camp opens to make an impact. If Jones can ignore the noise and stick to his own self-criticism and focus be a better player coming into his second NFL season he may just win back his coaching staff, teammates and the impatient Patriot fan base.
I feel fans should be patient and see what happens with Jones throughout the duration of camp and preseason. He’s talented but had a tough time mentally after his brutal start. With his height and speed I could only see him playing a slot/depth role if he was to get time on defense, especially if Malcolm Butler remains in New England as well as the recent signing of Pro Bowl corner Stephon Gilmore.
When preseason opens I could see the Patriots giving Jones a chance to redeem himself returning punts. We’re just gonna have to wait it out and see what happens. If he returns after the conclusion of preseason roster cuts, expect nothing more than him to be a depth corner possibly returning kicks or filling into another special teams role.