What have you done for me lately?
This phrase perfectly sums up the criticism directed towards Ravens KR/WR Jacoby Jones. Not only has Jones' play been disappointing and detrimental to the team at times, but it's safe to say that it's not just the fan base is concerned. What about Jones' teammates and coaches?
When asked about Jones during his post-game press conference on Monday, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh had very few words to say in his replies to questions directed to him about Jones.
Throughout the first seven weeks of the season, Jones' impact on the team has only been negative. Jones has dropped more passes than he has caught, and he only has four catches for 50 yards on the season. His primary duty on the team is to play a significant special teams role, but he has muffed two punts, losing possession for the Ravens in critical scoring areas of the field twice in the past three weeks.
Jones' spot on the 53-man roster is likely safe due to the four-year, $14 million contract ($4.5 million guaranteed), which looks like a horrible decision by the front office at this point. If it weren't for the cap implications with cutting Ray Rice earlier this year, Jones may have been on an even thinner leash than he is now.
The Ravens have received more than they could have ever expected from Jones, but at a certain point the coaching staff needs to identify a liability on the field and minimize any damage it could do to their team. At this point, Jones is a liability and the team needs to audition replacements for him in game situations.
With rookie receivers Michael Campanaro (7th round), and Kamar Aiken (undrafted) battling for playing time, Jones’ spot on the 46-man active roster should be given to whichever guy will likely be deactivated due to second-year wide receiver Marlon Brown likely returning this week against the Bengals after missing time with a pelvis injury.
Judging by playing time and production this season, Campanaro would likely be the odd man out. However, if Jones is deactivated as suggested, Campanaro can be used to return punts and kickoffs as he did during training camp and the preseason.
Had cornerback Asa Jackson not been placed on Injured Reserve with a designation to return, he would have been the favorite to take over Jones' duties.
Even though the Ravens defense is playing lights out at this point, no team can afford to give their opponents the ball in the red zone, especially after the defense just forced a punt. I’ve tried to stay encouraged that Jones will right his mistakes, but he is running out of goodwill points with the Ravens. His playing time and targets on offense suggests just that.
I don’t believe the Ravens need to cut bait just yet, and they likely won’t given how much they've invested in Jones to do absolutely nothing through the first seven games of the season. However, a clear message needs to be sent to Jones and the best way to do that is make him a healthy scratch against the Bengals in a game that will award the winner first place in the AFC North.
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