First, he wants to prove that he’s not washed up after suiting up for just five games and getting one sack in 2020.
The Cardinals placed Jones on injured reserve after suffering a torn bicep and he never played again that year.
That abrupt ending must have been frustrating for him, especially when he played all 16 games in 2019 and registered 19 sacks.
— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) September 15, 2021
Second, money is always an effective motivator, and professional athletes aware of that fact when their contracts are about to expire.
Jones is in the final season of the five-year, $82.5 million deal he signed in 2017, and he might be at the negotiating table with the Cardinals soon.
Therefore, this season will be vital in determining if he is still worthy of another long-term deal.
However, he settled the debate with a monumental opening weekend performance.
He flew all over the place against the Tennessee Titans and finished with five quarterback sacks.
Chandler Jones today pic.twitter.com/ESWf8RwH4q
— Pardon My Take (@PardonMyTake) September 12, 2021
More importantly, the Cardinals won against a team that made the playoffs last year, 38-13.
The former Syracuse standout was instrumental in limiting Ryan Tannehill to 212 passing yards, a touchdown, and an interception.
It didn’t take long before Jones made his presence felt.
He had his first sack on Tannehill roughly midway through the opening quarter, resulting in a nine-yard loss and a fumble.
I’ll say it again. CHANDLER JONES is going for DPOY!!!! My GOODNESS
— LeBron James (@KingJames) September 12, 2021
Cardinals defensive tackle Corey Peters recovered the ball at the Titans’ five-yard line and ran toward the end zone.
Unfortunately, an official review confirmed that he went down at the one-yard line.
That scoring drive gave Arizona a 10-0 lead and they never looked back.
Back With A Vengeance
The Titans lost six yards on Jones’ second sack, which happened during the five-minute mark of the first period.
Jones got his third sack with about a minute left in the opening quarter.
He got to Tannehill a fourth time with around five-and-a-half minutes remaining in the third quarter.
That sack resulted in a fumble that Cardinals linebacker Markus Golden recovered.
His fifth and final sack occurred on fourth down with less than a minute left in the third quarter.
Kyler Murray and Chandler Jones are hilarious 😅😅 pic.twitter.com/lXNSmxYGOu
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) September 15, 2021
Getting five sacks every game will be challenging because some teams have solid offensive lines.
But a strong performance from Jones checked some boxes in the Cardinals’ conditions for a contract extension.
Jones proved that his production is not declining even if he is coming off a major injury at 31 years old.
Five sacks against an offensive line that helped Derrick Henry rush for 2,000 yards last season is a powerful bargaining chip for the three-time Pro Bowler.
Chandler Jones post game pic.twitter.com/U3V7EDtiXd
— Johnny Venerable (@JohnnyVenerable) September 12, 2021
The two-time first-team All-Pro isn’t bothered by that repaired bicep anymore when he goes all out on the pass rush.
His strong start to the 2021 season makes him an early favorite to win Defensive Player of the Year and Comeback Player of the Year honors.
The Cardinals have no other option but to pay Jones once again if he finishes the season with numbers comparable to his 2019 campaign.
That mega-contract might be his last before walking away as one of the best defensive players in recent years.