Braxton Jones is Making a Case to be the Bears' Long-Term Left Tackle

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Braxton Jones is Making a Case to be the Bears’ Long-Term Left Tackle

Chicago Bears

Justin Fields’ growth at quarterback isn’t the only development arc we have eyes on down the stretch.

One area we’d all love to see the Bears shore up down the stretch is along the offensive line. And, specifically, in the pass-blocking department. Don’t get it twisted. Fields’ arrow has been pointing up in recent weeks. And the growth from Year 1 to Year 2 (and even in-season!) is undeniable. But there is another level Fields could reach purely as a passer if he had more time to throw.

All of that to say this: Left tackle Braxton Jones holds a key that could unlock another aspect of Fields’ game.

To be clear, I’m not putting it all on Jones. That would be too big of an ask . However, a solid left tackle can do wonders for a quarterback. And in the eyes of Pro Football Focus’ Michael Renner, the Bears might already have that in Jones. Renner is high on Jones, ranking the rookie left tackle’s performance against the Packers as one of the best among rookies who were playing in Week 13. The praise is eye-opening:

“Jones looks nothing short of the Bears’ long-term starter at left tackle at this point,” Renner writes. “After allowing only one pressure against the Packers, Jones has now allowed only five pressures over his previous four games.”

Renner being high on Jones is one thing. He wouldn’t be the first to be enamored with the rookie left tackle. Coming out of NFL Draft weekend, the Jones pick was giving us Charles Leno Jr. vibes. Later in the offseason, it was sounding like Jones could make a run at being a rookie starter at left tackle to begin the year. And when he got the first crack at left tackle during the Bears’ first padded practice, it was a first step toward being that guy. Now, Jones needs a strong finish to set up his case to be the long-term starter that Renner envisions.

And maybe we’re getting it. Renner’s stat highlighting the five pressures that Jones has given up in the last four games is telling. Especially when considering that PFF had just two offensive tackles allowing more pressures through the first nine weeks than the 28 Jones gave up in that span. So, to put it in perspective, that Joens has allowed just five pressures in his last four games after being a human turnstile throughout the early going of his rookie season is a sign of growth and development.

Solidifying the offensive line figures to be an offseason priority for the Bears. And it should be. Getting it right in the trenches makes everyone better on the offense. And it makes the offense better in the grand scheme of things. With that being said, there are questions surrounding the viability of Jones as a long-term starter at left tackle. Especially when thinking about that large sample of games in the first half where Jones’ rookie struggles were evident. Given that information, if the Bears can truly upgrade at left tackle this offseason, they should do it and not think twice.

However, the Bears might not need to address left tackle concerns this offseason. Jones still has five games to make a case that he should be the guy long term. If GM Ryan Poles was wise, he and his staff would give Jones’ tape a good, hard look in the offseason. Should they come to the conclusion that Jones is either (1) a long-term fit at the position or (2) a short-term bridge at left tackle, then they could bypass spending (money and/or draft capital) at that particular spot this offseason. That would allow them to spend at positions that are bigger needs.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand how solidifying the left tackle spot can bolster an offensive line as a whole. But Jones proving to be adequate at the position is a welcome surprise. And if he finishes 2022 on a high note, things could line up for him to be a returning starter on a line that could see massive overhaul. Stay tuned.

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Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.