The Falcons sorely missed Deion Jones’ play-making ability on defense since his Week 1 injury against Philadelphia, but on par with his physical impact on the field is his knack for reading offenses and ensuring his defensive counterparts are in position to make consistent stops. Robbed of a full third season due to a broken foot, you don’t need a magnifying glass to see how toothless the defense has been in Deion’s absence. But an underrated and just-as-important aspect of Jones’ game is his capacity to communicate, and lapses in communication have plagued this defense through the entirety of Deion Jones’ stint on injured reserve.
It did not bear fruit against the Ravens, but Deion dawned the green dot in his return, and was once again handling the on-field defensive assignments.
The Falcoholic’s Jeanna Thomas was on hand during Marquand Manuel’s media availability yesterday, and he dropped an interesting nugget that displays Deion Jones’ advanced understanding of defensive responsibilities. When asked about his return, Manuel indicated that Deion is already back to being Deion, and in control of the defense enough that he would shut the coordinator down when communicating through the headset.
He waved me off when I’m tellin’ him. Yeah he’s on the field, just waved me off like, ‘I got it.’ He only needs to hear a few words and it’s totally different. With the other guys it was just inexperience. We’ve been through this before, so he understands it.
That confidence level to properly convey the calls during games is a facet of Deion Jones’ play that doesn’t get the respect it deserves. When Jones went down, the Falcons held a number of in-game auditions for who would wear the green communications sticker. Duke Riley got his shot. De’Vondre Campbell was given an opportunity. Damontae Kazee was entrusted with the calls.
But from Coach Manuel’s own mouth, nobody is as well-equipped to diagnose what an offense is about to do as Deion Jones — even to the point of telling him, “I got it.”
The obvious caveat here is that the defensive performance on Sunday was lousy. Deion did more than his part (15 tackles and a sack), but with a defense missing so many key pieces it’s unrealistic to expect his return to right the entire unit.
But it’s certainly a step in the right direction for the final four games.
Deion Jones’ aptitude as an on-field commander is a crucial part of his game, and one this Falcons’ defense is definitely glad to have back. Deion is one of the brightest young defenders in the NFL, and for all of the highlights he’s provided over the years, his best plays might be the ones we’ll never see.