When the New England Patriots waived second-year cornerback Jack Jones earlier in the week, it seemed the Las Vegas Raiders, now under Antonio Pierce, were destined to be where he landed. Sure enough, on Tuesday, the Silver and Black were officially ‘awarded’ Jones after submitting a claim for the 25-year-old. It’s a fresh start for the now-former Patriot.
Although Jones is now on a different team, his surroundings are anything but different. That’s because the former Sun Devil reunites with Raiders’ [interim] head coach Antonio Pierce, who coached Jones in high school, then once again at Arizona State.
In a twist of fate that practically writes itself, Pierce, two weeks into his first stint as a head coach, was given the opportunity to coach Jones at the professional level.
The Raiders didn’t just get someone who their [interim] head coach is familiar with; they got a player who had a sensational season just one year ago.
In 2022, under defensive-minded genius Bill Belichick, Jones thrived – to say the least. The then-rookie played 434 total snaps, allowing a completion percentage of 50% on 40 targets, and a passer rating of 63.1 when targeted. Jones picked off opposing quarterbacks twice and was responsible for an additional four pass breakups.
Can this success continue in Las Vegas?
Jack Jones and the Raiders always made sense, with or without Antonio Pierce
The Raiders have been in need of a playmaker at the cornerback position for quite some time.
During the team’s 2021 campaign, which led into Jones’ draft class, Las Vegas finished dead last in interceptions with six. The year before that, in 2020, Sin City’s defense totaled 10 interceptions; tied for the fifth-least league-wide.
It always made sense for the Raiders to target Jones in the 2022 NFL Draft.
At the college level, Jones totaled 10 interceptions in 40 contests – one every four games. The ball skills were always there, made evident by his 26 combined pass breakups. Las Vegas instead elected to go in a different direction, paying the price with a league-low six interceptions once again in 2022.
In saying that, it’s important to acknowledge exactly how dire being placed in the right, or wrong, situation is.
Would Jones have had such a fantastic rookie year without Belichick’s guidance?
The situation around a player upon being drafted can make or break their career right out the gate – it’s that impactful. For Jack Jones, his situation happened to be learning under defensive mastermind Bill Belichick.
Cornerbacks are no strangers to thriving under Belichick, even in recent times. J.C. Jackson, for example, inked a five-year, $82.5 million contract with the Chargers after earning All-Pro honors in New England. Jackson lasted just over one full season in Los Angeles before he and the team parted ways.
In the meantime, Belichick got the most out of both Jack Jones and Marcus Jones last season. Most recently, first-round pick Christian Gonzalez, a favorite amongst Raiders fans heading into this year’s draft, was performing at a near-elite level prior to his injury.
Would Jack Jones have had such a fantastic year without the guidance of Belichick during his rookie campaign? Perhaps, perhaps not; it doesn’t matter. What matters is Jones got to learn from the best in the business, and now finds himself sporting the league’s iconic silver and black uniforms.
Welcome to Raider Nation, Jack.