It is finally time to pull the plug on Jacoby Jones.
I know, he can dance really well and Gary Kubiak is like a father to him and Harbaugh apparently loves him and blah blah blah. Jacoby Jones yet again muffed a punt, causing the Falcons to have amazing field position and more importantly, taking away great field position for the Ravens that the offense could have capitalized on. With a team that is playing so well right now, these miscues can be the difference between winning and losing, which just isn't needed if the Ravens are looking for their third Super Bowl.
The Ravens coaching staff has noticed that drops are suddenly becoming a part of Jones' forte again as they have pulled his offensive snaps down to a bare minimum, causing him to see zero targets against Atlanta. Even more poignant is that Joe Flacco seems to have lost all confidence in the 8th year player with Jones only having a total of 4 receptions on the year. His fumbled punt is a total of number three on the season on only 13 returns. The man is averaging a fumble an astounding 25% of the time he's back there for a punt return!
Now keep in mind that Jones' time in Houston ended because of a muffed punt against the Ravens. This punt to be specific...
Tell me that doesn't look almost exactly what we saw Sunday against Atlanta? Jones trying to catch a ball with a gunner breathing down his neck, getting restrained by that same gunner and the ball getting picked up by someone in a different jersey. Coaches understand that stuff happens and they understand a veteran making a mistake at times. What they don't understand, appreciate or tolerate is when the same mistake happens again and again and again and again, which is exactly what we see above.
I totally get that Jones can be an electric player as a returner. He has been an electric player in the past for the Ravens as a receiver as well, but drops cost him his role there. It's time that drops cost him his return duties until he can prove to coaches beyond a doubt that he'll catch the ball heading towards him.
At this point, the Ravens have other weapons on offense that they have been able to turn away from Jones as a receiver. Take a look at Marlon Brown, Kamar Aiken, and Michael Campanaro on offense all doing their thing and catching the ball. By next week, it is likely that Crocket Gillmore is tied with Jones on receptions for the year.
The person best poised to take over Jones' role as a returner is none other than Michael Campanaro. At Wake Forest, Campanaro saw return duties on occasion and did fairly well with them. While maybe not the same excitement as with Jones, Campanaro is known for having some pretty sure hands. At the very least, he should be getting the nod as a punt returner for the Ravens over Jones' incompetence so far in the season.
Regardless of how Jones is playing, the Ravens need to groom future prospects and the best way to do that is to get them on the field. Jones isn't getting any younger and it is just a matter of time before the one gift he has, speed, goes out the door. Getting someone like Michael Campanaro on the field, getting meaningful snaps at wide receiver and returner will open the Ravens to determining Jones' future with the team and to figuring out exactly what type of player Campanaro is.
If Campanaro is able to provide sure hands and decent return abilities, the Ravens could look to cut Jones next year and save roughly $1 million. While not the hugest hit to the salary cap, the Ravens are increasingly finding themselves pushing Jones away from the field and could use not only the salary cap room by the roster spot available to fill a more pressing need.
I wouldn't be surprised if we don't see Jones out there on punt returns against Cincinnati next week and that appears to be for the best.