“I don’t think that’s hard to get,” Jones said Thursday during a videoconference call. “And I feel like if there was a year to do it, this could be the year to do it, honestly, for me. That’s a personal goal of mine. But we have more help on our team. We have a better team.”
Jones had 19 sacks last season, the second most in the NFL, even though he was sackless in four games. The Cardinals, as a whole, were ranked last in the league in yards allowed. Yet, Jones still flourished despite constant chips and double-teams and a lack of defensive pressure from the rest of the defense. No other Cardinal had more than 5.5 sacks last season.
Part of Jones’ confidence in reaching 23 sacks this season stems from the Cardinals’ offseason defensive renovation. They signed linebackers Devon Kennard and De’Vondre Campbell, and defensive tackle Jordan Phillips, while drafting linebacker Isaiah Simmons in the first round.
“Just look at our roster and look at our team,” Jones said. “We have some help. And our front office has done a tremendous job of getting guys to complement Kyler [Murray] and to complement [Budda Baker].
“We’re looking good. We’re looking great. I’m not trying to speak too soon.”
Another part of Jones’ confidence comes from his personal health. The outside linebacker said Thursday that he’s feeling better than he did last year, thanks in large part to the extended rest due to the pandemic.
“I feel like I’m getting closer and closer,” the 30-year-old Jones said. “And I don’t feel older, and I had a pretty decent year last year. I feel even better actually. With some of this time off my body got some time to rest. So why not? Why not? Why can’t I break the record? So, we’ll see, for sure.”
Jones’ 2019 production landed him his third Pro Bowl nod and second first-team All-Pro selection. His output last season also helped give Jones the most sacks in the NFL since he was drafted in 2012 with 96, ahead of Von Miller, J.J. Watt and Aaron Donald.
That helped Jones get named to the NFL’s all-decade team and to the NFL’s Top 100 players, where he landed at No. 15 after not making the list a year ago.
If Jones can stay on the same average he had last season — 1.58 sacks per game — he could smash Strahan’s record. And with the type of help he’ll be getting from his defensive teammates, including the ability to continually flip sides with Kennard, Jones feels good about his chances.
“Where I am right now in my career, I’ve definitely felt like I’ve mastered the art of pass rush, for sure,” Jones said. “And half of the battle is just having confidence, knowing that no one could block you. You can say it out loud or you can it say to yourself.
“Each and every game, and each and every week, I feel like no one in the NFL could block me.”