Christian Jones Days Until Chicago Bears Season Opener
We’re getting closer and closer to kicking off the 2015 NFL regular season and as of today we’re officially 59 days away. Lets call it eight and a half weeks; that seems easier to grasp and feel good about. Speaking of feeling good, today we’re talking about a linebacker whose 2015 season I have a lot of confidence in. He wears #59 and his name is Christian Jones.
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From the start, Christian Jones‘ career trajectory seemed to be aimed squarely at linebacking stardom in the NFL. Pegged as a five-star recruit by Rivals.com, the Florida native turned down scholarship offers from several other top schools to play at FSU, the University where his father played and starred as a defensive end in the 70s. A steady ascension followed for Jones at FSU as he went from mostly special teams and spot duty at LB his freshman year, all the way to being the team’s leading tackler in his junior year of 2012.
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After receiving a mid-round grade from the NFL Draft Advisory Board, Jones decided to return to the Seminoles for his senior year. His return, however, was at a different position as new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt moved him from weak-side linebacker to MLB and then eventually to strong-side linebacker.
The moves showed Jones’ versatility and he performed well, but his senior year also featured a one-game suspension (from their third game of the year, against Bethune-Cookman) for an unspecified violation of team rules.
Nov 27, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Chicago Bears inside linebacker Christian Jones (59) against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Heading into the 2014 NFL Draft Jones was projected to be a second or third round choice, but a diluted urine sample at the NFL Combine triggered a failed drug test and caused him to go undrafted. Jones then chose to sign with the Bears, thanks in part to a familiarity that existed with then-Bears LB coach Reggie Herring, who played with Willie Jones (Christian’s father) at FSU.
Some time spent on special teams early in the year eventually gave way to Jones making his first start in week six against the Falcons. Jones would make four more starts during the 2014 season, including the last three games, and finished with 69 total tackles (41 solo) with two sacks and a fumble recovery.
18 of those tackles and both of the sacks came in the last two weeks combined, suggesting that Jones’ acclimation to the pro game was coming along nicely.
What to Expect From Christian Jones in 2015:
In a word — well, two words — A LOT. Much has been made of the upheaval on the defensive side of the ball amid the transition from a 4-3 alignment to a 3-4 under Vic Fangio, and Jones figures to benefit as much as anybody from the change.
Having seemingly recovered from some youthful missteps, Jones already appeared to be on the rise in his rookie season and now he’ll get the chance to be a key cog in Fangio’s aggressive scheme.
I have him pegged as a 2015 starter at one of the inside linebacker spots next to Mason Foster, but to earn that role he’ll have to beat out the Jonathan Bostics and Shea McClellins of the world, among others.
Winning the depth chart battle during training camp and preseason won’t be easy and the aforementioned veterans will do whatever they can to hang on to a starting role, but the time seems right for Jones. My guess for him in 2015 is a strong year as an important part of the defensive rebuild.
Next: Five Potential Breakout Candidates for the Bears