The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2014 gets inducted on Saturday. Shutdown Corner will profile the seven new Hall of Famers this week, looking at each of their careers and their impact on the game.
We rarely stop and say "Whoa!" about an offensive tackle during a game, but Jones caused one of those moments in the biggest win of his career. In the NFC championship game at the end of the 2005 season, the Seahawks handed off to Shaun Alexander off tackle. And Jones drove Carolina defensive end Mike Rucker from the 18-yard line to about the 3-yard line before finally pancaking him to the ground. Alexander ran inside the 5-yard line before he was tackled, and it set up Alexander's 1-yard touchdown run and a 17-0 Seattle lead. The Sehaawks won and advanced to their first Super Bowl. Rucker was listed at 275 pounds, by the way, and Jones treated him like a cornerback. It was a remarkable play, and it just happened to come in one of Jones' biggest games.
That block typified the sheer force that Jones brought to the position for his 12 NFL seasons.
Impact on the game
Jones wasn't the first offensive tackle to be drafted in the top 10 (not even the only one that year; Orlando Pace went first overall) but he helped reinforce the notion that taking an impact left tackle early on can be a safe, great investment. Jones was selected sixth overall in 1997 by the Seahawks. He was starting by the end of his rookie training camp and was a consensus all-rookie team pick that year. In his third year, he become the first Seahawks offensive lineman to make a Pro Bowl. Any team considering investing heavily in an offensive tackle in the draft can look at the legacy of a player like Jones and feel good about the potential of such a move.
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Case against his bust in Canton
Jones gave up 23 sacks and had nine holding penalties, which is quite a lot. Wait, that was for his entire career, on 5,703 pass attempts?!? Goodness gracious. Well, I guess there really isn't a reason he doesn't belong in the Hall of Fame. Next category.
Case for his bust in Canton
Jones was a prototype left tackle, a huge man who could dominate in the run game and athletic enough to swallow up pass rushers. He was a first-team Associated Press All-Pro four times, and a second-team pick two other times. When Alexander won the NFL MVP award in 2005 he had to give a lot of thanks to Jones, who helped pave the way for his 1,880 rushing yards and 28 touchdowns. If you want to list the greatest offensive linemen in NFL history, Jones would be part of the discussion. He was one of the rare players who comes along who simply has no real weakness, and can dominate in every aspect of his job. He was a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and really there was no question he should be.
"Walter Jones was a remarkable performer that deserves to be a first-ballot Hall of Fame selection, because he could make a difference as an offensive lineman. A reporter (and member of the Hall of Fame selection committee) called me about Walt before the election process in February. I said, ‘If you guys don’t put him in there than you shouldn’t even have a selection committee.’ To me, it’s that dramatic. He made such a difference." - longtime offensive line coach Howard Mudd, who coached Jones in Seattle his rookie year, via Seahawks.com
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