Fans weren’t overly enthused when the new dropped Justin Jones had signed a contract with the Chicago Bears. While adding a defensive tackle made sense for the new 4-3 defense, they’d been hoping for somebody with more credibility as an interior pass rusher. Across the past two years, Jones only has four sacks. Considering the importance of the three-technique position in Matt Eberflus’ scheme, that doesn’t feel like what they need.
Jones, for his part, doesn’t think he was the problem regarding his underwhelming stat line. He talks like somebody with some leftover hard feelings about his experience with the Los Angeles Chargers. The first whiffs of it came back when he signed with the Bears. He was asked why he chose Chicago and what stuck out to him. He immediately went to the team’s state-of-the-art training facility, indicating there were no such luxuries back in L.A.
“Probably the best decision I’ve made,” he said. “I like the guys here. I like the scheme here. I like the coaches here. Everything here is top-notch.”
“The way we take care of our bodies here, the way we’re able to get stuff done here versus from where I came from, it’s a big difference,” he said. “That doesn’t worry me. One of the first things I said was, ‘Man, this training room is amazing.’”
Jones missed 13 combined games between 2019 and 2021 with various injuries.
Many would say that’s him being brittle. From his perspective, the Chargers’ medical staff and facilities played a significant role. Think about this. Here is how many players missed at least five games with injuries over the past three years.
- 2019 – 20 players
- 2020 – 14 players
- 2021 – 9 players
Keep in mind this is the same team that saw one of their doctors puncture a hole in the lung of quarterback Tyrod Taylor in 2020. So maybe Jones has a valid beef. Yet it goes even further. He also has a problem with how he was used on the field. He’s also seen himself as somebody meant to get up the field, using his athleticism and burst to attack gaps. The Chargers didn’t use him that way.
“It’s going to be pretty scary this season for a lot of teams because it allows me to show out my get-off, my power, my strength, my speed off the ball. That allows me to get the one-on-one pass-rush opportunities. I’m not really covering anybody anymore. A lot of guys are covering me nowadays. Things have changed.”
In the video below, he further explained his meaning, describing how defensive coaches had him play in the “frog stance.” That is where he had to play flat-backed and low to the ground to be in a good position to cover two gaps in run defense. He wasn’t allowed to attack.
Justin Jones is showcasing that potential in training camp.
There have been numerous instances where Jones had multiple “sacks” of the quarterback in practice. He’s given the Bears interior offensive line all it can handle. If this is a preview of things to come, then that contract he signed back in March will look like a bargain. Eberflus has a reputation for identifying quality defensive linemen. So his push to lure Jones to Chicago shouldn’t be understated.
One undeniable thing is that Justin Jones is thrilled to be in Chicago. It feels like he’s in a defense actively working against him for the first time. He can play at full speed, using his strengths. The man sounds tired of being labeled as a “run defender.” He thinks he can be more. The Bears are giving him that chance. It wouldn’t be the first time they’ve helped a defensive lineman achieve his full potential.