Sure, I get it. Von Miller is exciting. Jamison Crowder and O.J. Howard have us dreaming of an even more potent offense somehow. That’s all well and good, but next on the All-22 list is a former Carolina Panthers player! And that’s more than exciting. It’s tradition! Let’s check in on DaQuan Jones’s 2021 season and see what the new big man on defense will bring to Buffalo.
I like the impact as DaQuan Jones hits the line but, to be clear, this is not brute force. There’s a subtle angle shift by Jones to hit the first target on the left shoulder rather than square in the chest. That forces a readjustment, which allows Jones to also smash into the center to help his teammate (#91) out. Jones then bounces back to his left and gets a hand into the passing lane.
This is very similar to the last play, but against one guy rather than two. The 2.5-second mark is a pretty good one to aim for with only two QBs (Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger) at this mark or less. Tua Tagovailoa is right there too at 2.52 seconds on average. The fourth place Tyler Huntley is at 2.62 seconds. Being in a QB’s face this quickly can often lead to this result.
The point of the GIF is pretty obvious. While Jones moves against this double team, it’s not that much. Even more importantly, the biggest step he takes isn’t completely backwards, it’s toward the lane the back is trying to hit. Want another reason to love this play? Look really closely: Jones’s form is pretty bad. His right foot isn’t even planted for most of this play so he’s doing this on one leg. This is 100% an upside play as I doubt Jones voluntarily wants to play with only half his base on a routine basis.
This isn’t a victory on the push as Jones is effectively just shadowing the block. Rather than try to blow things up, it’s often more prudent to be ready to either stop or accelerate as needed based on the ball carrier’s decision. Jones is able to lean and get a little more length when then back hits the hole to the left side. Jones doesn’t get much contact but he’s in the position you hope to see.
This play looks designed to let that first blocker (right guard) go by Jones and hit the second level. That said, it’s unlikely the intent is to let Jones by that smoothly. The compact swim allows him to pretty much go by with no resistance. Jones also has good body control to make sure his chest/ribs aren’t making unnecessary contact either. After the swim, Jones hits the right tackle square and drives him back, impacting the run.
DaQuan Jones was asked to do some pass rushing, sometimes even lining up more as a defensive end. For someone listed at over 300 lbs this is pretty quick taking the long way around. Jones only had one sack on the season so I’m not suggesting he’ll single handedly reinvent the pass rush in Buffalo. The point is more that Jones’s tape suggests he’s more versatile than you might expect.
The GIF does the heavy lifting here. We’ve now seen a swim and a rip to go with good physical tools. On this play, Jones’s presence was definitely felt.
I usually end on a high note so what gives? Le’Veon Bell is able to get right by DaQuan Jones so this is bad isn’t it? This is the value of someone who can take on double teams. Jones creates a small wall at the line of scrimmage, ensuring Bell can’t go through a good section of the field. That extra player occupied by Jones can’t be somewhere else and there’s a free tackler to make sure Bell doesn’t find the end zone. This isn’t a highlight, but it’s a good demonstration of the value of a space eater.
DaQuan Jones may not qualify as a sexy addition to the Buffalo Bills but, being fair, it’s hard to live in the shadow of The Big Signing this offseason. With Buffalo losing both Harrison Phillips and Star Lotulelei though, Jones looks like a better and better add all the time. From what I see, I think Jones ensures the floor hasn’t fallen as a result of those departures. I wouldn’t hesitate to suggest either that there’s an argument for possible improvement on the interior defensive line.