When will Jacoby Jones Step Up?
Patrick D. Starr
If you follow the Texans closely you understand where this question is coming from. Jacoby Jones is in his 5th year out of Lane College, after being drafted in the 3rd round (73rd overall) in the 2007 NFL Draft. In four years Jones has 96 career receptions for 1,229 yards and 9 touchdowns, and he has also returned 3 kicks for touchdowns (2 punts and 1 kickoff). He entered the 2011 season as an unrestricted free agent, but ended up signing a three-year deal with the Texans for $10.5 million, with $3.5 million guaranteed.
I was one of the few that said that IF Jones departed for greener pastures I would have not been upset, but bringing him back for three years tells me the Texans are still holding on hope that he will "break" out. Planted third in the receiver depth chart behind Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter, heading into the 2011 campaign, and it would be safe to say he is not threatening to unseat Walter as a starter.
In 2010, Head Coach Gary Kubiak said early on that Jones was pushing for the #2 receiver position. Jones had 51 receptions for 562 yards and three touchdowns (2010), but if you look deeper into the stats you will find that 22 of his catches came in the last four games of the season when the games did not matter which accounted for 287 yards. Take away the last four games of the season, and use the games that mattered, Jones had 29 receptions for 275 yards in 12 games. That means being the guy pushing for a starting position can only average 2.4 catches a game, and he is supposed to be a difference maker, those stats don't scream difference maker.
Now I understand stat sheets do not tell the whole story, because even with out Jones production the Texans were a top five offense in the NFL in 2010. Jones does do a good job of stretching defenses with his speed and make the downfield blocks, but just like you, it is time for Jones to earn his stripes. In my head I can't think of one impact play Jones made during the 2010 season and the only thing I can remember is his dropped touchdown pass in the Monday Night Football thriller against the Baltimore Ravens, which proved huge in the retrospect.
After seeing Jones in training camp I was quick to say he looked like a rejuvenated player and he was catching everything in his area. He gave camp a different feel and looked like he was ready to turn the corner. In three preseason games, Jones has really failed to make a real impact, with 6 catches and 40 yards (6.7 yards/catch) compared to Kevin Walter who has 5 catches for 51 yards (10.2/catch). Another disturbing thought about the comparison, is the amount of snaps Jones has had compared to Walter this preseason and there have been many more opportunities for Jones to make his mark.
I am all for the Texans and their players to prove everyone wrong, but it is time for Jones to make his mark and prove he really belongs on this team. He has all the physical tools to make a good wide receiver in the game and help the offense in their game plan. He will get ample opportunity to be a contributor for the Texans in 2011, on punt return or as a receiver, but time is running out for him not to be called the infamous "bust". Let's hope Jones finds his stride with the Texans and proves he can be the player the Texans were willing to sink a new contract into for the next three years.