Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

28 Oct 2009

Walter Jones Placed On IR

Seahawks tackle Walter Jones has been placed on injured reserve, thanks to continued pain from the microfracture procedure on his knee.

It goes without saying that his absence doesn't bode well for Jones's chances of playing well as an effective NFL tackle again (if he even wants to return). I can't find an offensive lineman in our "DVOA Era" database that missed an entire season at Jones's age of 35 and ever returned to the league.

I found seven players who were linemen at that age who clearly missed time due to injury. The list includes Lomas Brown, Ruben Brown, Dermontti Dawson, Kevin Glover, John Jackson, Dave Szott, and Richmond Webb.

Of those seven, Lomas Brown, Glover, Jackson, and Szott all returned after their injury. None played a full season. Brown started ten games for the Super Bowl Buccaneers, Glover made it through six starts for the Seahawks, and Szott started 15 games for the Jets. Jackson was a backup for a 6-10 Bengals team that started, ironically enough, a 34-year-old Webb at Jackson's left tackle spot.

None of the four ever played an NFL game again.

That doesn't preclude Jones from returning; none of the players we mentioned had Jones's athleticism. But for a player who is financially set for life and likely to return to a team in the process of rebuilding, it's hard to envision Jones making a comeback. Even if he does, it's likely to be short-lived.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 28 Oct 2009

24 comments, Last at 29 Oct 2009, 6:56pm by

Comments

1
by Kal :: Wed, 10/28/2009 - 3:20pm

Add to this Jones' work ethic of missing training camps (and taking pay hits for it) and showing up only to play, and I don't really see a guy who would want to come back and play through a lot of pain and adversity.

I don't think that's bad mind you, but I don't think he has anything he wants to prove (nor do I think he would have to).

I kinda hope he does retire at this point. Let him have a good life outside of the NFL, hopefully mostly pain-free.

6
by Alex (not verified) :: Wed, 10/28/2009 - 4:14pm

It might also be worth it to note that Big Walt has a kidney disorder which prevents him from taking any painkiller stronger than Tylenol. This Seahawks fan hopes that he retires - he'll almost certainly never be effective again, and maybe we can finally get around to finding a guy to fill an enormous set of shows.

Thanks for a great career, Walt. If there's any justice, you will be honored in Canton as soon as you are eligible. Either way, he's the greatest Seahawk of all time, and one of the greatest tackles to ever play the game.

8
by The Guy You Don't Want to Hear (not verified) :: Wed, 10/28/2009 - 5:08pm

Is there really any possibility he's not a first ballot Hall of Famer?

10
by BroncosGuy (not verified) :: Wed, 10/28/2009 - 6:51pm

Given who votes on the Hall of Fame, there is a chance he'll never be enshrined. I'm not predicting such an egregious oversight, you just never know with those guys. Frankly, if the enshrinement process is not improved, they should just shut the place down.

But to your point, if the selection committee were collectively knowledgeable and rational, Jones would be an automatic.

16
by James-London :: Thu, 10/29/2009 - 6:08am

If he retires this year, he'll be in the same class as Jon Ogden and possibly Orlando Pace (if he retire at the end of the season) All HoF certainties you'd think, but will more than 1 OT make it in a given class?

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

23
by The Guy You Don't Want to Hear (not verified) :: Thu, 10/29/2009 - 5:06pm

I think there's a fair chance Pace doesn't go in, actually. But I would assume that Jones won't retire until at least after the season ends, which means he would be the year after Ogden, correct?

24
by BroncosGuy (not verified) :: Thu, 10/29/2009 - 6:56pm

Same with Pace, who is, technically, an active player.

And the "we can't induct two guys from the same position" argument is a fine example of the idiocy of which I accuse the selection committee. Elway, Marino, and Kelly were all drafted in the same class. Its not outlandish to think they could have retired at the same time and been initially eligible at the same time. Why, which one should we take? We can't take more than one! Wait! Musial and Williams are on the same ballot? Whom should I vote against?

It's the sort of rule that only sportswriters could come up with. And they hold the keys to the Hall of Fame.

13
by Maude (not verified) :: Wed, 10/28/2009 - 7:58pm

Wow, Kal, that is a spectacularly uninformed opinion. Jones' work ethic has never been questioned - the holdouts were a business decision. And as others have already mentioned, he can only take mild painkillers and has played through significant pain and injury in the past.

Having said that, this is probably the end of the line for the best player to ever wear a Seahawks uniform, and I am also rooting for him to retire.

2
by Drunkmonkey :: Wed, 10/28/2009 - 3:41pm

Soooo, I can dump Julius for good now, right? I mean, I only held onto him because of the idea that Walter might come back, and I could use Julius to fill in for some bye-week matchups, but I don't see him as worth that spot every week anymore.

3
by sszycher :: Wed, 10/28/2009 - 3:46pm

Does this also mean a severe case of Greg Jennings Syndrome (GJS) for Nate Burleson?

GJS = a severe drop in production, caused in large part by offesnive line woes whihc preclude a QB's ability to utilize deep routes

4
by Joe in Seattle (not verified) :: Wed, 10/28/2009 - 4:01pm

Burleson is having his best season in Seattle and Walter Jones hasn't played a snap this year. So my answer would be no.

14
by Jimmy :: Wed, 10/28/2009 - 10:35pm

Burleson is at his best catching short passes and punishing defenses after the catch so it stands to reason that he is thriving this year.

5
by BroncosGuy (not verified) :: Wed, 10/28/2009 - 4:13pm

This is sad to see. Walter Jones was one of the absolute stud LTs of the past 15 years. Chances are, he's done.

Raise a glass of, I dunno, Redhook? Pyramid? to an outstanding player and career.

7
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 10/28/2009 - 5:03pm

It'd be interesting to get the detailed game charts, and see in how many games an edge pass rusher had a big game against Walter Jones. I'd venture you could count them on two hands, and perhaps one.

9
by Sideshow Bob (not verified) :: Wed, 10/28/2009 - 5:15pm

Re: 7, you can count that on one finger: Osi Umenyiora, a few years ago. That's it.

11
by FullMoonOverTulsa (not verified) :: Wed, 10/28/2009 - 6:55pm

D. Ware, Thanksgiving, 2008.

12
by Alex (not verified) :: Wed, 10/28/2009 - 7:49pm

2008 doesn't count, that was after he ran off the cliff and was pumping his legs wildly right before he fell, Wil E. Coyote-style.

15
by Jimmy :: Wed, 10/28/2009 - 10:38pm

Mark Anderson had two sacks against him on a Sunday night game in 2006. Back when Anderson could rush the passer. To be fair though Jones should only really be counted for one of them as for the other Hassleback was running away from Tommie Harris and pretty much ran straight into Anderson. So I guess one sack isn't too bad and I probably shouldn't have bothered mentioning it but I have typed it now so am going to leave it.

18
by tuluse :: Thu, 10/29/2009 - 12:34pm

Hey now, Mark Anderson actually pressured Palmer on one play on Sunday. Sure all that happened was that Palmer took a step forward and completed a 15 yard pass, but it was better then the rest of the d-line did.

17
by putnamp (not verified) :: Thu, 10/29/2009 - 12:09pm

I know this may be a bit wanky and I'd understand if it's a no-go but I've been hearing for years that Walter Jones is not just the best LT in the game, but historically good, and. during his prime. the best player at his position in the game.

This is pretty high praise, and while I understand his physical tools and technique were amazing and I understand that people just never got by him, but if someone asked me to explain why he was so good, I feel like all I could do was point to these very vague descriptors of his performance over the years. If/when he retires this year, is there a chance someone can take a look at him in a sort of Every Play Counts kind of manner and help me understand why he was so great in a more comprehensive manner?

I can watch Randy Moss or Peyton Manning or Larry Johnson and their dominant games become really self-evident. Ditto Albert Haynesworth or Ed Reed etc. But when an OL is having a great game it's probably one of the hardest things for the average fan like me to identify, and it makes me kinda sad that I can't give a better answer to the question of why he was so great.

I would also be interested in a similar sort of thing for some of Jones' contemporaries like Pace and Ogden, possibly as one big feature. I think given how unheralded the position is, and with 3 potential HOF linemen retiring in proximity to each other, it might be a worthwhile thing to do.

19
by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Thu, 10/29/2009 - 12:59pm

Well you could consider the fact that Jones was one of the key elements in making Shaun Alexander a monster performer for 5 consecutive years (particularly in the red zone) despite Alexander's notably soft running style, lack of elite power, and lack of elite quickness.

Pace's contributions to the Greatest Show on Turf are obvious. Ogden didn't play on many great offenses but he did block for some huge Jamal Lewis season.

Probably the best way to tell that an O-line is having a great game (at least in run blocking) is if the running backs are playing great despite the fact that they aren't athletic freaks. I guess Emmitt Smith would be an exception because he had great vision, but he had a pretty damned great line as well.

22
by putnamp (not verified) :: Thu, 10/29/2009 - 4:56pm

This is all true but I guess what I'm saying is that this level of knowledge isn't very satisfying. It's not particularly enlightening or satisfying to be able to say "Well, you know that he may be having a great game because his entire unit is probably having a great game because their running back is clearly having a great game". It's also not the sort of approach that scouts use to game-plan against him, so I'm looking more for that than this sort of meta-scouting thing that people always talk about when they talk about how good an offensive lineman is.

20
by Jacob Stevens (not verified) :: Thu, 10/29/2009 - 1:08pm

I'm a Seahawk fan with a black Walter Jones shadow jersey. I think what set Walt apart was his balance. Dancer's feet, great footwork and technique, calm fluid movement on the field, but what set him apart was the balance.

I recall a game against the Falcons, against Patrick Kerney, where on two occasions during their matchup Jones pushed Kerney to the ground and out of the play with a quick, small push to Kerney's inside shoulder as Pat sold out on his edge rush, since he'd been having no luck getting past Walter's sublime slide block. Leaving himself off-balance while scrambling to get to the edge first and around Walt's slide, Walt just gave him a small shove at the right, unbalanced moment and Pat just fell to the ground.

His kickout blocks were lethal, on the famed-in-Seattle 92 blast that made Walt, Shaun Alexander and Steve Hutchinson stars. Sure made Hutch's job easier. He might have been even better when the defense stunted or twisted, he was so fluid in working and transferring his man to the right.

Good in open space, good trunk strength added leverage to his balance to make him good against bull rushes, and good run blocking as well. But what set him apart was his balance. Had the footwork to mirror his man and the balance to keep from being beat.

21
by BigWoody (not verified) :: Thu, 10/29/2009 - 3:27pm

He was also freakishly fast. He ran a 4.6 40 at the combine.