Sunday, May 1, 2016

"Napoleon Complex" Drives Feisty Corner Jones

New England Patriots players usually aren't what one would call "Flamboyant", or even talkative - at least not in public, and especially not on social media sites. About as wild as any Patriots' players get is when Rob Gronkowski posts party pics on twitter, or when Brady goes full SpongeBob on Instagram, or on the rare occasions that head ball coach Bill Belichick posts a video on "Snapface."

Anything more is frowned upon, so many Patriots' players either rarely post on their accounts, or just don't bother having one. It's much better than being called onto the carpet for having an innocent remark turn into fodder for the motivation of their opponents.
Jones' on-field attitude on full display

So then, why would Belichick spend his top draft capital in a college cornerback whose presence in Twitter is just as large and looming as his wingspan on the field?

Typical of Belichick corners, Alabama's Cyrus Jones is a press corner who is exceptional in run support and will try to physically manhandle receivers coming off the snap, getting full value out of the five yard mugging zone in an attempt to intimidate the pass catcher and take him out of his game - the bigger the receiver, the more physical the diminutive Jones becomes.

You see, Jones displays all of the classic symptoms of "Napoleon Complex" or, "Little Man's Disease" as it were: Overly aggressive, verbose, loquacious, smart as a whip, and did I mention physical?  All of which several of Jones' Crimson Tide teammates can attest to, even to the point of raising the ire of head coach Nick Saban.

"He told us not to and he still did it" fellow corner Maurice Smith testified to recently when Saban told his team not to retaliate on social media for comments being made by upcoming playoff opponent Ohio State. "I knew that he would because that's the type of person that he is. He backs it up on the field."

"He's a little hot head."

Belichick will have to make extra sure that Jones understands the team policy regarding propaganda, and perhaps try to reign him in off of the sites altogether,because he can be just as combative on Twitter with people whom he feels disrespects him or his teammates as he is in mixing it up with receivers.

There is no lack of confidence in Jones' game, but there is a lack of height, which hurt him outside of the numbers early in his college career until he learned to use the sideline as a second defender and his incredibly long arms as his leverage - an aggressive challenger to force his mirror to make the spectacular catch, either over his head or tap-dancing on the chalk.

But first, they have to beat him off the snap which, if his college tape is any indication, is like trying to climb out of a mosh pit full of anger-crazed punks who are bent of keeping people in the pit, so that they can distribute proper beatings.

In other words, he frustrates receivers. It's kind of his calling card.

Many have Jones pigeon-holed as a slot corner in the NFL, and lord knows he has the makings of a fine one - but to not consider him for the outside is limiting the full expression of his skill set, as his exceptionally long arms, fundamentally sound technique and a vicious streak a mile wide could have quite an impact on vertical threats and slot receivers alike.

Generously listed as 5' 10 and a svelt 198 pounds, Jones had plenty of takers among opposing quarterbacks tested him with taller receivers - but as time wore on, those opposing players learned what coach Saban and his Alabama teammates already knew. "It's not like all of a sudden he became a good player" Saban said of Jones before last season's National Championship Game, "He's always been a good player for us."

Saban also has successfully used Jones as a punt returner, watching him shred opposing kick coverage to the tune of 12.6 yards per touch and four touchdowns, but it is his skill as a cornerback that has his coach and teammates raving.

"I really can't remember many balls Cyrus has given up this time of year." said Marlon Humphries, Jones' mirror on the weak side of the defense, "Most of the time, the shots were thrown at me that were completed. I know he's a great corner but sometimes he gets overlooked because of his size."

Smith expounded on Humphries' statement, adding, "They (the quarterbacks) look at him like, 'Ok, I'm going to throw on him', and then he turns around and gets a pick - then that side of the field is shut down the rest of the game.

Shut down? Those are words that were not often heard around Foxborough until names like Revis came and went and names like Butler appreared on the scene from practically nowhere, so Jones will have to understand that it's going to take the fine folks of New England a little time and a full body of work to come around to the thought that a rookie they've never heard of could provide such things...

...but it shouldn't take too long for opposing receivers and quarterbacks to understand why Belichick taking a virtual unknown was sheer genius, especially considering the success that Pro Bowl corner Malcolm Butler has enjoyed - as they will find out when they have corners on both sides beating up their skill players.

There are some who feel that Jones' physical style will draw plenty of holding and illegal contact flags on the tightly-called professional level, and that may be true - but once he works through the nuances of the professional game, it will be the receivers drawing the flags for such things as offensive pass interference and unsportsman like conduct, because that's what happens when a feisty corner with a huge chip on his shoulder gets under their skin.

Just don't look for him to be boasting about it on Twitter any longer.  Belichick prefers that his players do their talking with their skill on the gridiron - and Jones does that, too.

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