I remember becoming repeatedly angry at the television over blown coverages by Jones just last year. I would spend Sunday afternoon exclusively with my dad, following the Bengals broadcast. And I can’t tell you how many times my dad turned to me and said:
“I want ‘Pacman’ off the team.”
To tell you the truth, I agreed with him. I viewed “Pacman" as an unstable player. If you’ve ever followed a college NCAA football game, you know that you have the option to select conservative, balance or aggressive. Whenever I saw Jones play, I saw aggressive. And it was hurting the team.
He would go for the big chest tackle, the hard hit. He would attempt to jar the ball loose at times, and more often than not, the opposing receiver slipped the tackle and broke off for a run.
On punt returns, I would be scared to the core whenever Jones entered the field. The occasional explosive play wasn’t worth the constant mistakes. And as he put his hands around the football, I would automatically hold my breath, waiting for something bad to happen.
Now I see him take those same punts, and I’m still holding my breath.
This time, I’m waiting for something spectacular.
I am constantly amazed by the growth Adam Jones has shown in the last year with the Bengals, becoming a more and more balanced player. He fields the punt and doesn’t try to reverse the field during every return. His patience has increased, and he has even developed a finesse that confounds me.
His defense has shown the same, amazing improvement. I would consider him to be one of the two best cornerbacks on the Bengals roster, opposite Leon Hall. He is still dynamic, but no longer does he miss open-field tackles. He still hits hard, but no longer is he mistake-prone.
He understands his abilities, and has learned to play to his potential. For that, I have appreciated every play he has been involved in this year. It’s a fantastic thing to see such a change.
And as Cincinnati continues their playoff run, I look forward to his play down the stretch.
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