There was concern about Chris Jones retaining his job as the Dallas Cowboys’ punter in 2020, and especially going unchallenged with no other punters in training camp. But it sounds like Jones is looking like his old self again and that should be a nice boost to Dallas’ special teams this season.
We could all see the way Jones’ play declined last season. His distance on punts wasn’t as good and his usual pinpoint placement was lacking. It was looking like Chris, after turning 30 in 2019, may have lost his fastball.
But according to one Cowboys beat writer covering the team’s training camp, the veteran punter is returning to form.
Cowboys punter Chris Jones averaged 41.6 gross yards and 37.0 net yards per attempt in 2019. Both career lows. He just put those numbers to shame at AT&T Stadium, showing far more power in leg. Jones looks healthy after sports hernia, back injury quietly ailed him last year.
Jones’ injuries last season were not advertised. It was generally assumed that his decline was due to age or the Cowboys’ overall special teams problems under coordinator Keith O’Quinn.
A resurgence now may be twofold. Chris Jones is healthy again and hopefully the special teams play is in general is improving under new coach John Fassel.
Dallas appears to leaning heavily on Fassel to be the solution. They didn’t bring any competition to training camp for any of their specialists. Chris Jones and L.P. Ladouceur are returning their longtime duties and Greg Zuerlein ended up being the only kicker after Dallas cut Kai Forbath.
So far, so good for this strategy. Zuerlein has been perfect on field goals and now Jones is generating positive buzz as well. These are all players who have been among the league’s best at points in their career and the Cowboys are trusting in Fassel to get the most out of them in 2020.
Chris Jones will need a strong season to play out his contract. He is signed through 2021 and Dallas can save $2 million in cap space next year if he’s released.
For now, at least according to this report, it sounds like Jones is back on the right track.