Braxton Jones is the Chicago Bears Starting Left Tackle (For Now)
We’re starting to get some clarity regarding the future of the Chicago Bears’ starting offensive line.
And after citing scheme fit as a reason the team wasn’t pursuing free agent Orlando Brown Jr., Bears GM Ryan Poles gave Braxton Jones an important vote of confidence:
Jones is the team’s starting left tackle. For now. We’ll discuss that qualifier later. But in this instant, the public display of support is something worth highlighting.
Jones is a rising second-year player who performed admirably as a rookie last season. Sure, Jones could play with better consistency at left tackle. And he certainly still has improvements to make in pass protection. But the Bears are going to give him an extended runway to make those improvements and find that consistency. Frankly, I’m looking forward to seeing what he does with the opportunity.
Last year, Jones went from Day 3 pick to fighting his way into the starting lineup. That Jones played well (he was a top 20 tackle per PFF’s grading) when given the chance (and never let go of the starting gig) is encouraging. Giving young players the opportunity to sink or swim is something we didn’t get to see at the end with the previous regime. Better late than never, I guess.
And yet, I can’t help but think about the “right now” qualifier from Poles.
Because while the public vote of confidence is nice, Poles also leaves the door open for someone who isn’t Jones to start at left tackle in 2023. Maybe the Bears have a trade up their sleeve. Laremy Tunsil’s situation is still unresolved with the Texans. Perhaps the draft is an area where the Bears find someone they like as a long-term fit. Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski has a case to be the first offensive lineman taken in the upcoming draft. This isn’t to say we’re actively pushing Jones out of a starting role. But Poles did say the plan is to start the best five, a call-back to the team’s public stance regarding the line last year. So while Jones is in prime position to start now, I’d still consider the state of the line to be a fluid situation.