The ultimate goal of the Green Bay Packers is to win the Super Bowl. In fact, this year the oddsmakers from Bovada believe that the Packers are the favorites to win Super Bowl 50.
The last thing the team needs is to see one or more of their players get in the news for the wrong reasons.
But that was precisely what happened recently, when defensive end Datone Jones and tight end Andrew Quarless were put in that uncomfortable limelight.
On July 2, the Packers learned that Jones would be suspended for the Packers’ Sept. 13 regular-season opener versus Chicago for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.
According to City of Green Bay Municipal Court records, Jones was ticketed for marijuana possession on Jan. 19. In case you were wondering, that was the day after the Packers lost to the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Championship Game.
Jones paid an $880 fine a month later.
Then on July 4, Quarless was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor of discharging a firearm in public in the South Beach area of Miami. Police say that Quarless and another man got into an argument with a group of women near a parking garage. That led Quarless to allegedly pull out his .45-caliber handgun and fire two shots into the air.
The 2015 season was going to be a big year for both Jones and Quarless before these incidents, and now it’s become even larger due to their foolish actions. Neither Jones or Quarless have ever played up to their potential in the NFL, although Quarless has come the closest.
I had my eye on Jones prior to the 2013 NFL draft. As a matter of fact, I had the Packers taking Jones in the first round in the last mock draft I did that year.
The 6’4″, 285-pound Jones had a great combine that year, as he ran a 4.8-second in the 40-yard dash and had 29 reps in the bench press. He also had a nice senior season at UCLA (62 tackles, 19 tackles for a loss and 5.5 sacks), where he played in a 3-4 front, just like the Packers utilize.
The athleticism that Jones showed in college has only briefly become apparent in the NFL. Jones was having a nice training camp his rookie year before an ankle injury hindered his development.
Jones had another ankle injury in 2014. All told, Jones has had 31 tackles, five sacks, one interception and one fumble recovery in two years with the Pack.
Obviously, much more is expected out of No. 95.
Jones talked about what he can do if he’s healthy at the minicamp in mid-June.
“I felt like when I was healthy and I was at full-go, I was able to show guys this is what Datone Jones could provide. This is what he could do. This is how effective he could be,” Jones. “You’re watching a really good guy in the making, but there’s one point where I’m down, I had to regain everything.
“I’m not really worried about any of that stuff. My biggest thing is putting that behind me now and moving forward in my career to better myself. I’ve been doing so many things to help me out with yoga, pilates. All this different stuff to keep me healthy and keep me bending and keep me flexible. I’m just as strong as I was when I was a rookie or my second year. And I’m ready to go.”
When Jones made those comments, his suspension had not been announced as of yet, but surely he knew it was coming.
Jones has two years to go on his rookie contract, so he does have some time to get his career turned around.
Meanwhile, the 2015 season is a contract-year for Quarless, as he is eligible to be an unrestricted free agent in 2016.
It appears like the Packers are going not going to release Quarless after his arrest, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com.
Quarless had a great minicamp in June and was praised by quarterback Aaron Rodgers for his efforts.
“Andrew Quarless has had a great offseason,” No. 12 said. “I think he’s really, something clicked in for him at the end of last year and he’s been taking the jump.”
In his career with the Packers, the 6’4”, 252-pound Quarless has 85 receptions for 909 yards and six touchdowns. In 2014, even though he was pushed by rookie Richard Rodgers, Quarless started 11 games and had 29 catches for 323 yards and three scores.
When training camp opens later this month, the Packers will have six tight ends on the roster. Besides Quarless and Rodgers, the others competing for a job include Justin Perillo and three rookies, Kennard Backman, Mitchell Henry and Harold Spears.
Although Rodgers does not have the speed that Quarless has, No. 89 may have the best hands on the team, plus he had 20 receptions for 225 yards and two touchdowns last season as a rookie.
The bottom line is that Quarless is really going to be under the microscope now. Quarless has only himself to blame for that. No. 81 is very fortunate that the team is standing by him. Even still, Quarless has to be on double-secret probation now with the team, using an Animal House analogy.
Both Jones and Quarless have put their team in a bad spotlight. That is never a good thing. But the organization has given second chances to players before who have had off the field issues under the watch of Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy. Examples are Koren Robinson and Johnny Jolly.
From my standpoint, the transgression committed by Quarless is far worse than what Jones did. That is why he will be held much more accountable. And that’s the way it should be.
In either case, both players have to stay on their best behavior. Not only off the field obviously, but on the field as well.