We continue our countdown to kickoff with our most important Chicago Bears series. Today we feature a defensive player who had some bright spots last season at number seven.
Jones was spectacular during his four seasons at Florida State, but the linebacker went undrafted due to off the field issues. The Bears signed Jones as an undrafted rookie knowing his potential as a player.
Now this season the Bears are hoping Jones lives up to that potential and a little more.
When the Bears open up the season vs. the Packers on Sunday, the expectation is that Jones will be one of the starting inside linebackers. He was listed with the starters all throughout training camp but didn’t really that ‘wow’ factor in three preseason games.
But this season Jones enters as one of the most important players on this Bears defense as they transition into a 3-4. With the arrival of Vic Fangio, Jones will play a key role in the new defense.
Jones will lineup opposite of Shea McClellin as he looks to become one of the staples in the Bears defense for years to come. But there are some knocks on the 24-year-old despite his high potential.
Playing in Fangio’s new 3-4 base defense means Jones will be in coverage on opposing wide receivers, tight ends and running backs. Jones’ pass coverage has been poor in his short career, so it’s something that linebackers coach Glenn Pires must stress to him.
Last season Jones’ poor coverage skills were exploited vs. the New Orleans Saints where he was targeted eight times and allowed eight receptions including two touchdowns. It was by far his worst performance of the season.
Now entering the 2015 season, it’s an area the linebacker must improve in. If Jones can improve his coverage, where he will get plenty of chances to, we could see him eventually be the linebacker replacement the Bears have been searching for since Brian Urlacher left.
Keep an eye on Jones this season as I predict he will eventually develop into his role very well.