Matt Jones buzz begins in Jacksonville

I got a call from my dad today, who isn't quite as rabid of a football fanatic as me, but my whole family bleeds football when the fall comes around. Well he read about Matt Jones in the papers today, and apparently what he read was similar to <a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/wire?...">this ESPN.com article.</a>

Jones put on a show in the first day of minicamp workouts. The fans that were at the workouts have posted even more enthusiastic messages at the Jag-related message boards of the web. Jones caught every pass that came his way, and smoked one of our cornerbacks in drills. Jones showing good hands early is important to ease concerns about his pass-catching ability, because he didn't play the position in college. But execs at the Senior Bowl say he only missed one catch in the entire week of Senior Bowl workouts, and he appears to be catching everything in sight so far in J'ville too. After watching Reggie Williams struggle with holding onto the ball last year, it's encouraging to see early signs of good hands from such a raw prospect.

What I find most interesting is how the Matt Jones story is going well beyond just the Jaguars fanbase. Hopefully with some more success, the Jags can stop being stiffed on prime-time scheduling.

Yep, hopefully this will continue to be a good story.

Being from Florida and being a fan of the ""three"" (Miami, J-ville, and Tampa) I was pleased as punch with J-villes selection. My parents live in the St.Augustine area just south of J-ville, but I am the real sports fan in the family. I had quietly hoped he might make it to my beloved Fins, but I knew he wouldnt. Matt Jones is a great story and the buzz is understandable although it reminds me of the ""buzz"" of the Slash (QB whose name escapes me at the moment) who went to Pittsburgh out of Colorado and I certainly hope Matt Jones has greater success. Jones seems like phenomenal athlete and a genuinely nice guy and J-ville certainly needs some hands.

The difference was ''slash'' wanted to be an NFl QB when he would have been a much more servicable WR.

I realize the diff :), I just find the buzz very, very similar and frankly I believe Jones is by far the superior overall athlete and probably even a better QB from the get go. I simply dont want him to go the way of Kordell Stewart, but I dont expect him to...

You get to cheer for three teams? No fair! I''ve only got my Saints... and my wife''s Falcons. And the Ravens b/c they''re my video football team. Oh, and the Titans because most everyone who lives in Birmingham would rather cheer for the Titans than the Falcons (Birmingham has a bit of a complex about Atlanta).

You cheer for the Titans?

We''re not buds anymore.

Eh, not really. Not since I''ve left Birmingham, anyway. Mostly I needed another team to push be over three.

Ultimately, I''m pretty much an NFC kinda guy. No doubt it''s because I grew up watching the division with the 49ers, Rams, Saints, and Falcons, who, at various points, played a decent brand of football. And of course, since the realignment, it''s been Saints, Panthers, Buccaneers, and Falcons, and, if you check the NFC championship game for the last 3 years (and 5 of the last 7; 6 of the last 9; but those numbers include 2002 divisional pre-realignment games), you may notice something in common - that''s right, none of them can beat Philadelphia.

I have beer, will you be friend?

Edit: While trying to make sure I had my date correct on the realignment, I found this memo. It''s moderately amusing... for 1am anyway.

You had me at ""beer"".

I''m very focused on the AFC, NFC teams are of little consequence to me. If I had to choose one to follow, it would probably be the Saints due to McPherson and the San Antonio rumors. I also cheered for the Saints when Jeff Blake''s career was given a second wind, but the dumping of Blake in favor of Aaron Brooks burnt up most of my Saints good will.

That, and Deuce McAllister woefully underperformed for my fantasy team last year. He barely broke 1,000, and he did it in such a hot-and-cold fashion that I could never trust him enough to put in my starting lineup, so I missed out on most of the (too few) big games he did have.

"SpyNavy" wrote:

I realize the diff :), I just find the buzz very, very similar and frankly I believe Jones is by far the superior overall athlete and probably even a better QB from the get go. I simply dont want him to go the way of Kordell Stewart, but I dont expect him to...

Instead of thinking Stewart, think Hines Ward, Antwaan Randle-El, and Drew Bennett - three college QBs turned receiver. In fact, the wide receivers coach that handled Drew Bennett''s conversion in Tennessee is now the wide receivers coach in Jacksonville, handling Jones''s.

Bennett''s not too dissimilar, though less impressive. He''s a 6''5"", 200 pound, 4.65 40 time white boy, and Jones is a 6''6"", 240 pound, 4.40 40 time white boy. Bennett''s become extremely productive (1,200 yards and 11 TDs last year). Here''s hoping Jones can perform better with physical talents far beyond Bennett''s.

I have a feeling that one of the things that helped the Jags'' confidence in drafting Jones was Steve Walters''s success with Bennett - not only proof that the conversion can be made, but having the guy that did it on your staff.

"*Legion*" wrote:

I''m very focused on the AFC, NFC teams are of little consequence to me.

Given the current state of the NFL, that''s not such a bad thing. Here''s hoping the parity fairy will swing things the other way.

and, if you check the NFC championship game for the last 3 years (and 5 of the last 7; 6 of the last 9; but those numbers include 2002 divisional pre-realignment games), you may notice something in common - that''s right, none of them can beat Philadelphia.

Er, the Bucs beat them a few years ago on their path to Superbowl glory.

True, but I was focusing on the last 3 years. The parenthetical clause indicated a comment tangental to the core concept of the statement. Of course, my final clause was meant to be tongue-in-cheek and the true intent was to show that an NFC South team has been in the championship game each of the las 3 years. I guess that means this is the Saints'' break-out year (yeah, right).

I am not knocking Jones - just pointing to the buzz that seems Slash like. I am actually probably higher on Jones and the Jags now then is really realistic. He is one player and we havent seen him play receiver/TE in pads, making cuts or catching passes with a CB in his biscuits and a Safety inbound with murder on his mind. That being said I have a gut feeling he is the real deal and will make a lot of Jag fans happy. I wonder though if he shouldnt pack on 10 pounds and line up as a TE vice slot receiver.

Hines Ward might not be the best example. Although he did play QB in high school he only started at QB at UGA a few time, due to injuries to the Starting and backup QB (though he did do well) He spent most of his time in College at WR, so had a good deal more exp at the position when coming into NFL than Jones will. Still the Jags might have picked themselves up a budding superstar.

Career College stats for Ward (the real slash):

1,063 career rushing yards, 1,965 receiving yards, 918 passing yards and 842 return yards.

I must do it:

""Who is Matt Jones?""

I watched Matt Jones in person several times when he played UT during his college career. He is a special player and is so deceptively fast it will shock you. As a receiver, he should do well but not be pro bowl material anytime soon, if ever.

Ok someone needs to tell him to stretch - he is one of like 5 rooks who are all down to pulled muscles after the first mini-camp.

"SpyNavy" wrote:

I am not knocking Jones - just pointing to the buzz that seems Slash like.

I know what you meant, bud. No worries.

I wonder though if he shouldnt pack on 10 pounds and line up as a TE vice slot receiver.

I don''t doubt that he will eventually be utilized in many different fashions. Pehaps not as an on-the-line TE but more of an H-back... someone you can line up attached to the TE but one step off the line, and either run the play there or send him in motion out to the slot on either side and create a matchup that way. I think the idea right now is to get him to do a few things well that they can use to get him into the game, and then consider having him worry about things like blocking schemes for the run game and such later.

Some have talked about wanting him to bulk up to be a full-time TE. One neat quote from Chris Mortensen''s article on Jones has stuck with me:

""You know, it''s funny,"" one AFC head coach told me last week. ""We asked [Jones] about putting on some weight and playing tight end, and he made it clear that he thought it was foolish. He said, ''So you want me to put on 20 pounds and be a 4.57 guy instead of a 4.37 guy?'' When you put that into context, you have to admit he makes sense. Match up a 6-6 guy who is that fast and athletic with great hands on any corner – even the tall ones – and how do you stop him?""

Hines Ward might not be the best example. Although he did play QB in high school he only started at QB at UGA a few time, due to injuries to the Starting and backup QB

Fair enough.

""You know, it''s funny,"" one AFC head coach told me last week. ""We asked [Jones] about putting on some weight and playing tight end, and he made it clear that he thought it was foolish. He said, ''So you want me to put on 20 pounds and be a 4.57 guy instead of a 4.37 guy?'' When you put that into context, you have to admit he makes sense. Match up a 6-6 guy who is that fast and athletic with great hands on any corner – even the tall ones – and how do you stop him?""

Well he is smart too apparently - I bow to Matt''s superior knowledge about himself :).

"SpyNavy" wrote:

Ok someone needs to tell him to stretch - he is one of like 5 rooks who are all down to pulled muscles after the first mini-camp.

A lot of veterans got pulls too - I know in Jacksonville, Marcellus Wiley tweaked his hammie on the same day as Jones. There''s always some tweaks in the first minicamp.

Jones has resumed participating in 1/2 speed drills, but he''s still sitting out the full speed action.

I got a hal baked injury report when it first happened and I almost cried. It said Matt Jones - injured - may miss... I then read on and it said part of the mini camp, but my eyes read season and I had to sit down.

LOL. I would cry too if that happened.

I think what''s exciting about Jones is the psychological aspect of what he''ll bring as much as anything else. I see him being used a lot on 3rd down, but also coming in on 1st down too. If Jones goes into the huddle, you HAVE to put nickel personnel on the field. You can''t have him being chased by a linebacker. But Jones is going to have 40-50 pounds on the nickel back you put on him, and so you can run on 1st down against the pass defense personnel, and Jones, not necessarily possessing great blocking technique, can bury the guy he''s to block just because he has such a massive size/weight advantage on him.

As a receiver, he should do well but not be pro bowl material anytime soon, if ever.

For now at least, the idea isn''t him becoming a star #1 receiver. It''s him being the #3 WR from hell. He won''t have to face top cornerbacks, and if you do want to roll coverage towards him, what, you''re gonna roll it AWAY from Jimmy Smith? Not to mention Reggie Williams finally lost some of the baby fat and looks like a quick receiver instead of a plodder. There''s always gonna be the threat of just tossing it up and letting him jump and grab it, technique be damned. For the Jags, he will force defenses to stop crowding the sidelines, and play the middle of the field.

That is, as long as he continues to catch the football like he did at the Senior Bowl, Senior Bowl week workouts, Combine, and mini-camps so far. The one thing that could put the brakes on the Matt Jones Experience is if he drops footballs.

Yeah once I see him play in pads and see how he does covered by pros bent on introducing him to the turf I will be happier and more confident. Even just as a deception or a ""What if?"" in the coaches minds he is a value.

I know in Jacksonville, Marcellus Wiley tweaked his hammie on the same day as Jones.

You should hope Wiley''s hammie stays pulled and he gets cut come June. It isn''t a coincidence that the Chargers went from 4-12 to 12-4 the year after Wiley was cut. The guy is a cancer who will give you almost no production from the defensive end position and will be the first to point the finger at someone else when the losing starts.

Wiley was signed for peanuts. He''s being given a chance to either impress and show his old level of play, or be sent packing if Paul Spicer''s recovery from a broken leg last year doesn''t slow him down. Wiley''s not so old as to be beyond hope yet.

Jacksonville showed last year with Hugh Douglas - no matter how ""big"" your name or contract is, Del Rio has no problem going with a younger, unproven player if he''s outperforming you in camp. And Wiley can be cut with almost no penalty, so he either needs to take this second chance with a smile on his face and a non-stop motor on the field, or he can probably say bye-bye to the rest of his NFL career. It''s all on him, and it''s a pretty risk-free proposition for the Jags. They got their real free agent pass rusher in Reggie Hayward. If Wiley can''t do anything with Stroud, Henderson, and Hayward eating up any double-teams that the O-line might muster, then he''s done.

Here''s my beef with the whole Jones thing...

a) he''s from Arkansas...a telling thing indeed

b) a FIRST rounder on a project...just think they reached high for him...by about a full round. I guess they think he would have been snatched early 2nd round..so I understand...I''m just not convinced.

As to teams...

Dolphins are my love, Falcons are my 2 team (and NFC choice) - with my TN drivers license also comes a lifetime ''root for the titans'' subscription...so they jump in at #3.

"Pigpen" wrote:

b) a FIRST rounder on a project...just think they reached high for him...by about a full round. I guess they think he would have been snatched early 2nd round..so I understand...I''m just not convinced.

Jones would not have made it past the 1st round.

Philadelphia would have taken him. In fact, after the draft, we found out after the fact that Philly tried to TRADE UP to get Jones (Jacksonville themselves were offered trades 3 times from the Eagles for their #21 pick, but the Jags knew their target was Jones).

Reportedly, Pittsburgh was torn on whether they should take Matt Jones or their eventual pick, Heath Miller, had Jones made it to pick 30. They wanted a big target for the middle of the field, and while Miller is a more traditional TE, he''s also coming off of surgery and there are some concerns (if not MAJOR ones) about his recovery. He won''t participate in anything until June at least.

For the Jags, I don''t know if any of the other 1st round picks would''ve been better for them. Mark Clayton is a small WR without top-end speed. Fabian Washington is a pure speedster corner with questionable cover skills. Heath Miller has been injured left and right. There were no slam-dunk picks for Jacksonville at #21. The positions of strength at that spot in the draft were QB and DT, spots where the Jags don''t need help. This was a thin draft, and there was a lot of 2nd round talent at the end of the 1st round.

I sort of like the pick; however, would JAX have done better by accepting the Philly trade and getting a few more picks? I wonder what they offered them?

I could see Philly doing this before Jax, in all honesty. They had so many picks and seem to have some roster stability (well, aside from all their hold-outs).

"firesloth" wrote:

I sort of like the pick; however, would JAX have done better by accepting the Philly trade and getting a few more picks? I wonder what they offered them?

From the sound of everything, it was a swap of 1st rounders, plus a mid-round pick, or a future pick. Nothing too good to pass up.

I could see Philly doing this before Jax, in all honesty. They had so many picks and seem to have some roster stability (well, aside from all their hold-outs).

I don''t think it''s that surprising. Jacksonville''s defense is one of the best in the league - one of the few to put the brakes on Peyton Manning. What Jacksonville lacks is enough offensive explosion. I think you have to gamble on a potential big playmaker instead of picking up a bunch of depth. The Jags have accumulated depth at most skill positions, but need someone explosive to stick on the field.

It''s a gamble, definitely. But look at some of the names of recent 1st round wide receivers (Rod Gardner, Freddie Mitchell, Donte Stallworth, David Terrell, Koren Robinson, Santana Moss... all 2001 1st rounders), and you see that taking any receiver in the 1st round is a big gamble.

Here''s the ironic thing when it comes to the Jags draft. They were widely thought and mock drafted to be taking Washington OT Khalif Barnes with the #21 pick. Instead, they took Jones.... and then Barnes slid all the way down to their 2nd round pick. Had the Jags taken Barnes with their 1st round pick, and Jones with their 2nd rounder, they would have been graded highly by the talking heads. But there''s so much focus on taking Jones early that many overlook that they took a guy in the 2nd round that they were expected to take at #21... IF he even made it that far (many mocks had him gone before #21).

We''ll see what happens. They seem absolutely convinced Jones is for real. The front office is showing the media the film they used to judge him, and they seem to be making believers too.

My thinking is, there are so many drafts we look back on, see so many teams pass on a superior talent, and ask, ""WTF were they thinking?"". The question marks that loomed on draft day seem so silly in hindsight.

Not getting great value out of your 1st round pick isn''t the end of the world - half the NFL does it every year. But scoring a potential gamebreaker could pay off major dividends. So we''ll see.

The real bitch will be if Mark Clayton turns into an All-Pro, though.

"*Legion*" wrote:

Here''s the ironic thing when it comes to the Jags draft. They were widely thought and mock drafted to be taking Washington OT Khalif Barnes with the #21 pick. Instead, they took Jones.... and then Barnes slid all the way down to their 2nd round pick.

I know...I was hoping the Ravens would be in a position to grab him.

The real bitch will be if Mark Clayton turns into an All-Pro, though. :)

Here''s hoping!