Earlier this offseason, Monty was touting former first-round pick Datone Jones as a potential breakout player in his fourth season. While players usually don’t go from non-factor to factor in season four, there was something intriguing about that theory.
Jones will play his first full season at outside linebacker in 2016. He was thrust into that role — a role he’s never played — during the 2015 season. In very limited action, he actually looked the part. Jones recorded there sacks in 400-plus snaps. Meanwhile, starter Mike Neal had just four sacks in more than 800 snaps.
So the theory goes that, given more playing time, Jones could legitimately make a contribution. That’s something he hasn’t done — at least significantly — in his first three seasons.
Jones has just 51 tackles and eight sacks in his career.
He also has plenty of excuses.
“I felt like my rookie year I got hurt in training camp, my first training game (preseason) — I thought I was ready to go,” Jones said. “But my coaches were like, ‘Datone is not ready to go.’ That’s probably where my playing time (was less)…you know what I mean?
“My second year, season, I was starting when I really did get hurt. It was bad. It was a legit excuse,” Jones said.
“Now I just want to compete. I never complain about playing time, reps. I’m more about, with the time I’m given, with the time I’ve been allotted since I’ve been here, I felt like I’ve shown up and I’ve played pretty well for the snaps I’ve gotten since I’ve been in Green Bay.”
Are there more excuses?
You bet there are!
“A lot of people — especially the media — (say) ‘Datone Jones is only doing this.’ They don’t realize, I’m not playing over 600 snaps. I’m not playing 700 snaps,” Jones said. “I’m doing that with 300, 200 snaps. Which is special. So, I’m like, what can I do with 700, 800 plays?
“If I want that, I’ve got to go out there and compete to get that.
“I had a suspension (for one game) last year, too — I was being punished. Now I’m not, I’m healthy, ready to go. I’m playing for my future and my daughter’s future. I want to be in Wisconsin. This is the team that drafted me; I want to finish here.
“If I want to show (GM) Ted Thompson and all the rest of them guys, I’ve got to prove to them that it’s important to me, and that I’m focused, and that I can be a playmaker.”
You know what we hate?
That’s not to say Jones can’t make an impact with more playing time. He first has to earn that playing time, though. That will be tough in a crowded outside linebacker group.
And when is the last time you saw a guy who is full of excuses do anything to distinguish himself?