Matt Jones has been the Jaguars biggest lightening rod for controversy ever since the team released quarterback Byron Leftwich nine days prior to opening day last season. The fans in Jacksonville have loved to hate Jones, as he has been labeled by many as soft, the worst label one can have as a professional football player. Jones has been a poor blocker, has been reluctant to seek contact, and seems to have a lackadaisical attitude toward the game of football.
What has kept Jones employed by the club has been his draft status, as he was a first-round pick in 2005, and no team wants to cut first-round picks and admit they made mistakes. Jones has also showed just enough flashes of athleticism to keep him receiving paychecks. Until last evening, Jones also had the reputation of being a solid citizen who has never been in trouble with the law.
The team obviously saw that they needed an upgrade at wide receiver after January's disappointing loss to New England, as they signed former Raiders wide receiver Jerry Porter in free agency, and traded for former Vikings wide receiver Troy Williamson. The early success of Williamson in OTA's and mini-camp had put Jones squarely on the bubble prior to this incident.
The Jaguars pretty much have no choice but to end the Matt Jones experiment. Although Jones has undeniable physical talents, he hasn't been able to be consistent on the football field, and he hasn't shown the tendency to be a hard worker. The fans have already turned on him, and when you add in a felony drug arrest, and the decision seems to be crystal clear.
What Jones must realize after the inevitable release happens is that his play on the field, not his arrest is what cost him his job. Although former Jaguars wide receiver Jimmy Smith was never charged with a felony, he had similar drug problems and the franchise and fan-base stood by him and defended him. Why? Because Jimmy Smith was a star wide receiver who worked hard on the field. Production allows for off the field indiscretions.
The Matt Jones era in Jacksonville will likely end in the next few days, and the only lasting impression from it will be a sense of complete apathy. Jones seemed apathetic from day one, as he has physical skills that few possess, but never seemed to care enough to harness those abilities and turn into the star receiver he has the ability to be. It seems as though Jones career has been a tale of self-sabotage. He never appeared passionate about the game of football, and it seemed as if he was just playing the game solely to collect a paycheck. He's not the first player to do that, and certainly won't be the last. I hope Jones finds happiness in whatever line of work he decides to enter, and I genuinely hope he learns from his upcoming trial and tribulations during his time in Jacksonville.
Matt Jones Making the Wrong Cuts
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