Syracuse, N.Y. -- Confidence is critical for any successful athlete, and former Syracuse football star Chandler Jones has plenty of it.
"I've mastered the art of pash-rushing for sure," said the Cardinals' All-Pro linebacker who led the NFL with 19 sacks last season. "I feel like no one in the NFL can block me."
At 30 years old, the Union-Endicott High School alum is at the top of his game. Twice in the last three seasons, the onetime 2-star recruit has been an All-Pro, setting a new Cardinals' record with 17 sacks in 2017 and then re-setting it last year.
In the NFL.com list released last week ranking the top 100 players in the league, Chandler is 15th--just behind Tom Brady, and just ahead of Aaron Rodgers. Pretty heady stuff for someone who left off the list last year, but according to Jones, it's still a little low.
"I think really high of myself, especially where I am in my career," he said. "Me and my family, and a lot of my friends, think that I should've been higher. I'm not satisfied with being at 15, but it's a good number."
One way to move up is to break NFL records, and Jones is taking direct aim at Michael Strahan's single-season mark of 22.5 sacks this season. He's the same age that Strahan was when the ex-New York Giant broke former Jet Mark Gastineau's milestone. And after piling up more sacks (60) than any other NFL player the last four seasons, Chandler says the record is within reach.
"I feel like I'm getting closer and closer," said the guy who only totaled 10 sacks in three seasons at Syracuse. "I had a pretty decent year last year, and I feel even better actually with some of this time off. So, why not? Why can't I break the record?"
Jones and the Cardinals have reported to training camp, but the NFL's COVID-19 guidelines mandate they can't engage in full-contact practices until August 17. In the meantime, the team's best defensive player says he's looking to lead the way in making sure he and his teammates follow the proper protocols for keeping everyone healthy. He says he prefers to lead by example, but he's also ready to speak up if necessary.
"It's easy to get tired, you pull your mask down and wear it as a chinstrap or things of that nature. But, me being an older guy on the team, I feel like that's my job to step in and say, 'Hey, follow the protocol.' Because I feel the team that follows the most protocols is the team that's going to be successful."