Mike Jones not worried about replacing Simmons: "I believe in myself"


by - Senior Writer -
Jones will likely start at the SAM spot next season.
Jones will likely start at the SAM spot next season.

Mike Jones enters the 2020 season as the favorite to start at the strong outside linebacker spot manned by Isaiah Simmons over the last few years, but he knows he doesn’t have to be Simmons. He just needs to be the best Mike Jones possible.

Jones enters 2020 credited with 22 career tackles (4.0 for loss), a forced fumble and a pass breakup in 196 snaps over 18 career games.

"We're counting on him," defensive coordinator Brent Venables said. "Putting in a lot of extra time on his own. Pleased with him and the progress he's made. Laying in the weeds, if you will. He has a sense of urgency about him and a good skill set. Really can do multiple things. Not just one position for him.”

Jones said he learned a lot from Simmons, who went with the eighth overall pick in the recent NFL Draft to the Arizona Cardinals.

“I learned a lot from Zay (Isaiah). Just being calm and composed and trust in my preparation and believe in myself on the field,” Jones said. “Zay is a freakish talent but he was like a teacher to me. And I feel like I am a freak, just like him. Just really playing confident and believing in yourself and working hard. Just letting it all transfer to the field. That is what I learned the most from him.”

Venables said Jones has all the tools to be successful.

"He's got twitch, he's physical, good linear speed and top-end speed. But he's got good quickness too. He's got a savviness about him,” Venables said. “He understands football. His dad played in the NFL for a good long while, so he's got good bloodlines and sometimes that translates and it sometimes it doesn't, you know? He's got a good football IQ, tremendous pride, super coachable, he pays attention so he's got a humility about him. You know, he didn't have his lip out when Isaiah Simmons was playing ahead of him, but he tried to learn and be a sponge. He admired and respected Isaiah. A great teammate and a really good student. Very committed guy. Fabulous work ethic."

Jones said he doesn’t want or expect any dropoff at the position.

“For myself, we don't want any dropoff. He was a freakish guy and a great player, but I believe in myself and I believe in Coach V putting us in the best situations,” Jones said. “We are learning and getting better as a defense and we are bigger than one dude and we will be ready when it's time to be ready. We don't expect any dropoff.”

He then said he doesn’t look at it as having to replace Simmons – he looks at it like he simply has to get better every day.

“You try to not think about it. That is probably what I do the best,” Jones said. “Just focus on myself and focus on being all I can be and getting better every day. That is all I can do. That is the main thing.”

He also has a sounding board in his father, Mikes Jones, Sr., who played for 12 years in the NFL (and is well known for his actions during the final play of Super Bowl XXXIV, known as The Tackle, when he tackled then-Tennessee Titans receiver Kevin Dyson at the one-yard line to preserve a Rams victory).

“He has been awesome. He has done it all. He played in the league and all of the adversity the players go through, he has lived it,” Jones said of his father. “He is kind of like the person I get to vent my feelings to. He is a big 'trust the process' guy with me. He keeps me level-headed and lets me know there will be good days and bad days. He helps me with everything and I really appreciate him.”

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