Unheralded Vikings Defender Eyeing a Promotion after Christmas Eve Explosion

NFL: Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

For the most part, the Vikings put disappointment under the tree on Christmas Eve. An unheralded Vikings defender, though, had different plans.

The 2023 season has been a tough one for Patrick Jones, but the third-year pass rusher looked like a new player in Week 16. He was an absolute menace, consistently getting penetration to make plays behind the line of scrimmage while showing tremendous hustle. And given the injury to D.J. Wonnum, Jones could be more important than ever.

Patrick Jones, The Unheralded Vikings Defender Who Shined

Mr. Jones easily hit a season high for snaps.

By the end of the battle, Jones had been on the field for 54 snaps. Some of that is due to the aforementioned injury to Wonnum, but there shouldn’t be too much confusion about this one: Jones earned the opportunities that were in front of him. Lately, a normal game would involve a snap count somewhere in the 20s or 30s, so this was a notable uptick for the backup pass rusher.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears
Jan 8, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Patrick Jones II (91) enters the field before the first half against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

The pass rusher finished his day with 6 tackles. Now toss on a sack and then a QB hit. He then had three tackles for loss. Simply put, Patrick Jones had some dominant moments in the game. Yes, the defense as a whole was bad, but the edge rusher was putting his best foot forward.

The young defender hadn’t picked up a sack all season, so being able to bring Jared Goff to the turf was definitely good timing. Unfortunately for Jones, the effort wasn’t enough to see Minnesota get the victory. The Lions were still able to get up to 30 points (in fairness, much of that is due to the Vikings tossing 4 interceptions).

Dec 24, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Detroit Lions running back David Montgomery (5) is tackled by Minnesota Vikings safety Josh Metellus (44) and defensive tackle Harrison Phillips (97) during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Danielle Hunter is going to continue being the main man along the edge. The long and strong pass rusher had a quiet day when Detroit visited in Week 16. Arriving at a different outcome in Week 17 and 18 will involve seeing Mr. Hunter get back to his usually disruptive self.

Part of what’s going to allow Hunter to do so is the effort from a counterpart. Patrick Jones was explosive on Sunday, consistently partnering some impressive burst with great hustle. More impressively, Jones cashed in on those abilities with tangible production. The man filled up the stat sheet.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Minnesota Vikings
Oct 8, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) throws a pass as Minnesota Vikings linebacker Pat Jones II (91) defends during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Next up is a game against the Green Bay Packers. Being able to make the postseason involves snagging the victory in Week 17. Another loss would seal Minnesota’s fate.

Look for Patrick Jones to keep the good times rolling on Sunday, December 31st.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference helped with this piece.

K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.