It’s been a week since the Seattle Seahawks upended the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday Night Football in Week 5, and so now we can take a look at every snap Jamarco Jones played at guard for the team. Playing Jones was obviously an interesting decision since Joey Hunt was healthy and active for the game, meaning that it’s possible that Jones might have passed Hunt as depth on the interior of the line.
It’s no secret that the big debate surrounding Jones’ ability to play offensive line in the NFL is based around his athleticism. In short, he has athletic measurables that are comparable to exactly one NFL tackle who has started 50 or more games, and even that tackle is currently listed as nearly 40 pounds heavier than Jones is listed by the Seahawks. That said, there are guards who have started for multiple seasons in the NFL with Jones’ measurables, though it would likely help quite a bit if he can add some weight to his frame.
In any case, this piece will be done in two parts. The first of these parts will look at the coaches film from every single snap that he played against the Rams, and then the second part will look at a few snaps in particular that highlight where his athleticism might be a hindrance in the NFL. So, jumping right to the first part, let’s watch every snap Jones played last Thursday.
Now, before we do get to the film, one thing to keep in mind is that the Rams play a 3-4 defense, and oftentimes leave the guards uncovered. So, for example, Jones often won’t have a defender lined up directly across from him, such as is seen in these stills. So, he’ll either be uncovered or will have a defender in a gap where he’s expected to double team the defender with either Justin Britt or Germain Ifedi. I came up with a quick count of 26 such snaps of the 63 non-kneel snaps he played where this was the situation. It’s not a knock on Jones or his game in any way, it’s just something to keep in mind as you watch the clips. These will come in several different looks from the defense, and here are just four of them as examples.
And now to the clips.
RG - Jamarco Jones v Rams 1/3 pic.twitter.com/1fBBOJq7lU— Tony Blakeley (@Cyoplasm) October 10, 2019
RG - Jamarco Jones v Rams 2/3 pic.twitter.com/FGd0SAZBiH— Tony Blakeley (@Cyoplasm) October 10, 2019
RG - Jamarco Jones v Rams 3/3 pic.twitter.com/NnIvG6fPjI— Tony Blakeley (@Cyoplasm) October 10, 2019
Now that you’ve watched everything, I’ll cover a few of them in more detail. The first thing I’ll address is why his weight might be an issue. Most fans will remember how Ethan Pocic had trouble anchoring as a rookie because of a lack of weight and core strength. However, for those who don’t remember, this is what it looked like when he’d get blasted seven yards back into the backfield.
With that said, this is what it looked like when Jones faced off against Rams rookie defensive tackle Greg Gaines and got pushed two yards into the backfield. Gaines then read the play, disengaged and made the tackle.
On this play the Seattle linemen are listed as weighing 315-331-315-293-325. Let's see how hard it is to spot the one who weighs 293 in this clip. pic.twitter.com/F29hd6246C— John P. Gilbert (@JohnPGilbertNFL) October 10, 2019
It’s not the end of the world, as Gaines has a 15 to 20 pound weight advantage on Jones. However, with Vita Vea of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (listed at 347 pounds) and Brandon Williams (336) and Michael Pierce (340) of the Baltimore Ravens on tap in Weeks 7 and 9, it could be a much bigger push back into the backfield that we see.
In any case, a second issue with his weight is how he can be knocked off his path when working to the second level. On this next play, his job is to get to the second level and block the linebacker. However, Aaron Donald makes a phenomenal play in recognizing the trap the Seahawks are running and immediately reaches out to knock Jones off his track. Whether or not a 320 or 330 pound guard would be knocked far enough off track that they miss the block on the linebacker it’s impossible to know, but we can know that on this play AD is able to push Jones far enough to the inside that the linebacker steps around Jones’ block.
Here it is in slow motion for those who want it in an easier to follow format. Amazing play by AD.— John P. Gilbert (@JohnPGilbertNFL) October 10, 2019
1. Recognizes trap
2. Reaches out and knocks Jones off path to LB
3. Dips under Iupati's trap block
4. Makes tackle (on one of hardest to tackle RBs in NFL https://t.co/UYG8szVeDH pic.twitter.com/RqSnBRDn9x
Moving on to his lack of foot speed, here are examples of where that lack of speed contributes to him whiffing on blocks in the second level. On all three of the plays in this clip it appears as though his assignment is to help double team at the line of scrimmage before proceeding to the second level to block the linebacker. Unfortunately, on these plays he’s unable to land the block in the second level. Again, not fatal, and the key question is whether this can be addressed by releasing earlier from the double team to get to the linebacker a bit earlier. If that will fix the issue, then there’s no problem. However, if his footspeed is simply so bad that he is regularly unable to land blocks in space, then that is an area of concern.
Hopefully we’ll get to see him play some more in the coming weeks and can get more examples of this so we can make a guess one way or the other. That said, his time in the 40 was 5.50, which was still significantly slower than either Mike Iupati (5.26) or D.J. Fluker (5.31). Now, I’d guess that Iupati and Fluker have lost a step since they ran at the combine due to the accumulation of wear and tear, so I’m not certain how much of a step down it would represent, if any, if he were to play guard in place of either of those two.
that's what I see too. It's different from Cable's in that their "zone step" is almost power... it's a shallower more "up-field" step vs the nearly flat step Cable taught that got our guards consistently murdered. The benefit is more side by side THEN up to the backer.— Lifelong Breakfast Taco Fan (@hawknado) October 10, 2019
Now, keeping with his lack of athleticism, while he wasn’t credited with surrendering a pressure or a tackle on any of the following plays, why playing at guard can help cover his athletic shortcomings is on full display. He gets beaten with quickness on all three of these plays, but in each case it turns out to be irrelevant. On the first play, he gets beaten to the inside, but Donald runs himself right into Justin Britt. On the second play in the clip, Jones is beaten to the outside, but Germain Ifedi is there to absorb Donald. On the last play, Jones is beaten to the outside, but it’s irrelevant because Donald guessing where the play would go took him right out of any position to make a play.
All that said, it’s not difficult to imagine that if Jones were playing in space at tackle what it would look like for Russell Wilson if Jones were to quickly lose to a speed rusher.
In addition, he did allow a couple of pressures, which are shown here. The first one doesn’t show up on the stat sheet because it was nullified by the roughing the passer penalty on Clay Matthews.
If I took a hit like this I'd die. pic.twitter.com/P6xYEaYNLh— John P. Gilbert (@JohnPGilbertNFL) October 10, 2019
Now, before anyone accuses me of simply focusing on the plays where he didn’t do as well, my point in this part of the piece is to mostly focus on how his athletic profile plays into the question of how it could affect his performance. So, with that done, I’ll shift now to some quick looks at things he did positively.
As I’ve always stated, when he gets his hands on guys and engages them solidly, it’s largely game over for defenders, and that’s seen here.
I didn’t show this play earlier bc the broadcast angle wasn’t as revealing, but check out Jamarco put in that work through all the craziness https://t.co/YaPhwlRsAC— James Tennis (@JamesThomasHT) October 4, 2019
I don’t necessarily agree one hundred percent with the next tweet, but it’s another great example of Jones engaging and locking on with his death grip. That said, it’s also an example of Jones being pushed seven yards in the backfield, so I’ll let you make up your own minds.
I cannot overstate the value of Jamarco’s performance creating deep pockets up the middle and clear escape lanes for Wilson. Love how he sticks with it here w hands & feet: pic.twitter.com/GJAWwL6JfZ— James Tennis (@JamesThomasHT) October 4, 2019
Now, with this one I am in complete agreement. Jones has a wingspan that is just a shade under 7’2”, and he is at his absolute best when he can get a hand on a defender, get full extension and hold them at arm’s length, which is exactly what he does here.
Game winning touchdown— James Tennis (@JamesThomasHT) October 4, 2019
That OT length really comes in handy on the inside too: pic.twitter.com/u1VhvPRa3g
Just to illustrate exactly how ridiculous his arm length is, I grabbed this screenshot of him standing next to defensive tackle Greg Gaines. Gaines is a rookie out of the University of Washington who is 6’ 1-1/8” and has 30-3/4” arms. Jones is 6’ 4” with arms that are 35-1/8” long.
Quick set reach on the play action. Gets that left hand inside to withstand the rusher’s stab & locks out with those 35” arms. Jamarco's pass pro footwork stood out all game: pic.twitter.com/efhKTjCuvT— James Tennis (@JamesThomasHT) October 4, 2019
Jones’ PA jump sets were very consistent, not allowing anything close to the instant penetration that’s plagued Seattle’s PA max protect shots this season: pic.twitter.com/kOLsQG40HF— James Tennis (@JamesThomasHT) October 4, 2019
Here he is with Britt nicely double teaming Sebastian Joseph-Day.
Hip to hip & shoulder to shoulder with Britt on this double-team. Drives his feet to finish off 69 nicely (apologies) and looks for more work: pic.twitter.com/gBMJvQ8gHA— James Tennis (@JamesThomasHT) October 4, 2019
And I’ll end with Jones absolutely destroying Joseph-Day in the fourth quarter.
"Low man wins"— John P. Gilbert (@JohnPGilbertNFL) October 10, 2019
Unless the lower man is on his back with the blocker on top of him. pic.twitter.com/5jJy3gxGnR
In summary, there are components of his game that are strong, and there are parts about which I certainly have questions. That said, I do certainly hope that he gets a significant amount of playing time at guard in the coming weeks. If he can put on some weight, he likely represents only a minor downgrade at most from either Iupati or Fluker at guard, and on the interior of the line his lack of athleticism is minimized by the reduction in space which he is required to cover.