Justin Jones will be under the microscope for remainder of the year
Due to injuries and personal issues the Chargers defense up the middle has taken a big hit, especially when it comes to the big guys up front. Corey Liuget is out for the year with an injury and Brandon Mebane is dealing with personal issues pertaining to his premature daughter. With these two starters being out rookie Justin Jones and third round pick from N.C. State is being thrusted into action. This is great news for the long term development as it gives him an accelerated boost to said development as he is learning and becoming more seasoned on the fly. This will likely become a big help in evaluating just what exactly the team has in Justin Jones and just what his ceiling could be.
The team is in need of help when it comes to stopping the run and with Brandon Mebane in the final year of his contract at the age of 34 it is unlikely he will don the lightning bolt helmet again. Corey Liuget will be in the final year of his contract next season and although he is younger than Mebane as he will be approaching 30 next year, he also has an injury track record. Given these facts it makes it of the utmost importance to really gage and evaluate the potential of Justin Jones. The team will likely want to draft an up-front run stopper early in the draft if they don’t feel comfortable with his ceiling moving forward. This upcoming draft is loaded with defensive line talent so it may make sense to draft one anyway. However the focus is still on this season as the team is looking to make a legitimate push and super bowl run. Last week against Cincinnati running back Joe Mixon gained 111 yards on 26 carries amounting to an average of 4.6 yards a carry. That is simply too many yards per touch especially going down the stretch part of the season. Heading into the playoffs, teams with a good run game and running back will try their best to expose this weakness.
Damion Square and Darius Philon had a total snap count of 42 and 41 while Jones had a total of 28 snaps. I would like to see this snap count become more balance and evenly distributed moving forward. Not only does this help the front office have a better gage of what type of true potential Jones has but I also believe he has a higher ceiling of both. I like both Philon and Square very much but they are more fitted to be rotational pieces yet have more experience at the moment. This makes sense as the team wants to limit mistakes as they capitalize of this season they have on hand. Philon was has been playing very well is in the fourth year of his pro career and was given more of a slow approach in his development. This has made it so that it is still unclear exactly what Philon’s ceiling could be. His development probably was slowed by the team switching defensive schemes from a 3-4 base scheme to a 4-3 base halfway through his early career. None the less the potential with him is still there and it would make sense for the team to pick up his rookie option as the team may not want to both sign and draft a defensive tackle in the offseason.
So while I may like Philon’s snap count total I would like to see Jones’s snap count increase. This can be done by mixing Square in with the defensive ends a bit more like how we saw before Joey Bosa returned. This is so that the team can give a legitimate shot and evaluation in the two young defensive tackles to not only accelerate their development but also to have a better gage in what they have moving forward. If Jones show’s signs of improving moving forward I would love to see his workload increase little by little. With these next few games being ever so vital going into the playoff’s we will see exactly what these youngsters are made of as I’m rooting for both of them for more reasons than just the obvious.