Josh Jones was one of the bright spots in training camp, playing so well he not only earned a spot on the 53-man roster, but that he also carved out a role for himself on defense in Seattle's three-safety package that put Jones on the field with Pro Bowlers Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs.
And now, with Adams sidelined by what Seahawks coach Pete Carroll described as a serious quadriceps tendon injury, Jones will step into the starting lineup to become an every-down player.
Yet if not for a phone call from Pete Carroll last spring, Jones might not be in a position to step into Seattle's starting lineup. In fact, he might not be playing football at all, and instead be at home at Atlanta with his family.
"To be honest, the reason I'm here is because of Pete. I wanted to sign back, but I was tired of going through what I was going through in the league," Jones said.
A 2017 second-round pick of the Packers, Jones lasted only two seasons there for various reasons, some of which he now admits were his doing, saying he had some growing up to do. Jones then spent time with the Cowboys, Jaguars and Colts, starting 13 games for Jacksonville in 2020 but otherwise being mostly relegated to backup roles or practice squad duty. Jones joined Seattle's practice squad late last season, and played well in one start, which came in a season-ending win at Arizona, but even with that strong finish to he season, he began wondering about his future in the offseason.
The Seahawks offered Jones a contract in the spring, but having fired his agent, Jones was taking his time make a decision, factoring in the distance between Seattle and his children in Atlanta, and with a son on the way—Carter was born in July—Jones wondered if he should continue a career that, through five seasons, had not gone according to plan.
A couple of weeks before the draft, Jones shared his feelings with his brother, telling him, "I'm tired of everything, my career hasn't gone how I wanted it to go, man, I might be done."
Jones then told his brother, "If I don't get a sign, I'm done." And not long after, Carroll called to check in on Jones and ask if he was going to re-sign with Seattle.
"That was the sign right there," he said.
And while that was the sign, Jones already knew Seattle was a good place for him based on his brief experience last season, particularly the road trip to Arizona during which Carroll pulled him aside the night before the game for a heart-to-heart chat about Jones' future in Seattle, and about how Carroll wanted him to take it as a fresh start without worrying about what had happened in his career up to that point.
"Since that talk, everything has been a lot different in my life," Jones said. "Nobody has ever, especially a head coach, took the time out to ever truly understand me. For me to be transparent with him—he listened, he took it from his perspective, and he understood where I was coming from as well.
And once Jones made the decision to come back, he was fully committed, putting in the best offseason of his career.
"Those five weeks we had leading up to training camp, when I tell you I was the most disciplined I've ever been in my life… I understood what was in front of me, I understood that I had to come in here and compete. I understood that nothing was going to be given to me—nothing has been given to me in my life. And I knew I had to work for it. Pete told me, 'You're going to have to earn it.' I earned my way on his team and earned everything that I got."
Said Carroll, "Stuff didn't work out quite right his first couple years, but when we got him way back, it was the Cardinals game when he was going to start for the first time, we sat down that night before the game and talked about mapping out this future, because he just looked like he should be part of what we're doing. And he hadn't had much success up until then, and I don't think he really believed what I was telling him, because I was selling him that he was going to be a big part of what was going on, and he was hesitant to accept that. And then he made a big decision this offseason to really go for it, and we've seen great results, and he's having a blast. So we're really happy to have him.
"I've just been really pleased with Josh Jones. Josh has done nothing but positive stuff since the day he got here. And since then, he's just kind of taking the next step and the next step. Coming to this camp, he came back and he had a great camp. He had the most turnovers, he had the most big plays, and big hits of all of the guys. So you saw him in the rotations already—he was already part of the plan—and now he just takes a bigger step forward. He's strong, he's fast, he's (210) pounds. He's a big kid that plays the position with a really good motor, and he's a smart kid."
And now, five months after he considered walking away from the game, Jones will step into Seattle's starting lineup, a moment he's been preparing for throughout his career. And while Jones isn't happy about how this particular opportunity came up with Adams going down with an injury, he's more than ready for it.
"This is not just an accumulation of five weeks, I'm talking about over the years—year after year after year after year of denial, of things not going my way, and then obviously you finally just get the opportunity in an organization like this," he said. "You don't necessarily have to be more than what you need to be. Me being me, that's completely enough. I can go to sleep at night with that, not worrying about, I have to be this, I have to be that. I can be Josh Jones, I don't have to be Jamal Adams, I don't have to be Quandre Diggs. I'm me. I'm different from those guys. And that's not taking anything from Jamal; Jamal is a great player in his league. It's super unfortunate what happened to him, and my prayers are out to him in his whole healing process and his whole mental, but my whole thing is just going out there and just being me."
Go behind the scenes with team photographer Rod Mar as he shares moments from Week 1's thrilling Monday Night Football victory over the Denver Broncos at Lumen Field on September 12, 2022. Eye On The Hawks is presented by Western Washington Toyota Dealers.