The New England Patriots are known for finding players who defy the odds when others have counted them out. Third-year cornerback Jonathan Jones certainly fits that category.
The scouting reports on Jones highlighted his lack of size (5’10, 190 pounds) and placed doubts on his ability to keep up with the level of physicality in the NFL. Jones went undrafted and signed as a free agent with the Patriots in 2016. Three years later, he’s a two-time Super Bowl champion and has emerged as a crucial piece to New England’s shutdown defense.
“You look up the definition of resilient and Jonathan defines that,” Sean Stellato, Jones’ agent, said. “He has such pride and passion for the game. He’s a first-class guy on and off the field. He’s been an underdog his entire life and he walks with such humility. He puts everything first in terms of his humbleness and his preparation.
“He’s an ideal client,” Stellato said. “Him and I are the same size, pretty much. This game, let’s face it, a lot of it is height, weight and speed. Seeing him go out there and play like he’s 6’4, it’s exciting for me. I’m all about the underdog. He’s a lot like (Tom) Brady. He never forgets being undrafted, where he comes from and being overlooked.”
An Auburn product, Jones helped the Patriots win a championship during his rookie season when they defeated the Atlanta Falcons, 34-28, in Super Bowl 51. An ankle injury kept him out of Super Bowl 52, which the Patriots lost, 41-33, to the Philadelphia Eagles. Jones anchored New England’s defense in last Sunday’s Super Bowl 53 win over the Los Angeles Rams in Atlanta. He led the team in tackles with eight (six solo) and recorded one sack in the 13-3 victory- the lowest scoring Super Bowl ever.
“It’s overwhelming,” Jones, who also plays special teams, said. “It’s something you dream about, to win a Super Bowl. It’s just as special the second time around as the first. It means a lot to be able to go out and achieve it.”
Perhaps there weren’t many who thought the Patriots would limit the Rams’ high-powered offense to just three points. But Jones and his teammates bought into the system, believed in one another and executed from start to finish.
“I think it was execution,” Jones said. “It started up front. We had a lot of situations where the defense up front stepped up and stopped the run. Everyone executed, the linebackers, the secondary, the whole defensive unit. When we play a game like that, it takes a whole defensive effort to stop a team like that.
“(The Rams) were a great team all year,” Jones said. “To go out there and have a great game on the biggest stage, it just shows the type of defense and the type of players we have.”
Jones also played a key role in New England’s 37-31 overtime win in the AFC Championship Game at Kansas City. He recorded a pair of solo tackles and defended one pass, but, more importantly, limited all-pro receiver Tyreek Hill to just one catch on three targets.
“Jonathan’s stock has definitely increased, without a doubt,” Stellato said. “To do that against one of the most dynamic players in the game, he shut (Hill) down. There aren’t many players that have the speed to run with him. He takes his craft and development very seriously. To do that in a hostile environment, and then back it up in the Super Bowl, that was great.”
The Super Bowl win was especially memorable for Jones, who grew up in nearby Carrollton, Georgia. He attended Carrollton High School, where he was one of the nation’s top track and field athletes in the 110-meter hurdles.
“It was great to get back to my home state,” Jones, 25, said. “To have your whole family cheering you, supporting you. To win the Super Bowl in your home state, you can’t expect or wish for anything better.”
Jones finished the regular season with 44 tackles, seven passes defended, three interceptions, one and a half sacks and one forced fumble. He’s set to begin a new phase in his career as he’s a restricted free agent. Stellato said Jones would like to remain a Patriot.
“He loves the organization,” Stellato said. “He loves being a Patriot, he loves the fans. Our goal is to make him a Patriot for a long time. He’s been with the organization for three years and he’s been to three Super Bowls. It’s incredible.”