Christian Jones brings underrated value to Chicago Bears defense

Chicago Bears (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) /

When the Chicago Bears signed Christian Jones there was not much made of it. He is a depth player who has been with the Bears before, so it got passed over quickly. However, Jones has played a significant number of snaps for the Detroit Lions in the past three years, and you have to wonder if he is going to have a bigger role in 2021 than some are expecting.

Over the past three seasons, Jones has played 65%, 67%, and 46% of the defensive snaps. He is not a firm piece, but for two years he was getting starter snaps, and last year he certainly had a role.

When examining his role, one of his better attributes came as a pass rusher. For the Detroit Lions, he rushed the passer on 21% of his defensive snaps. Last season, he rushed on 32%, the most of his career.

When we looked into the role in which Danny Trevathan played it was worth highlighting he was blitzing 8% of the time, and his career-high never touched 10%. Roquan Smith blitzes even less, and that includes Vic Fangio.

A quick thought of Jones signing was that Trevathan was aging and that Jones could provide depth as a backup. However, unless they plan to blitz Trevathan more, which may be smart, it may be a different role that they are after.

Another article we recently wrote highlighted that Vic Fangio, Brandon Staley, and most likely Sean Desai are looking for edge rushers with versatility. Robert Quinn is a situational pass rusher because his inability to defend the run as well as being no threat to drop into coverage makes him easier to scheme around.

Jeremiah Attachou and Christian Jones may not flash on highlight plays like Quinn, but down in and down out they are more equipped to defend the run and drop into coverage.

Attachou was just in a Vic Fangio defense where he dropped into coverage 8% of the time, which would be a career-high for Robert Quinn.

However, the key is that Attachou defended the run 40% of the time he was on the field, and Jones was at 47% for his career, and 52% last season. Robert Quinn defended the run on 32% of his snaps last season.

For comparison, Khalil Mack played 381 run defense snaps, Robert Quinn played 191. The Bears will either need to give him a heavy dose of increased snaps against the run, or they have to find players who can bring value against the run on at least 190 snaps, if not more considering they will have to spell Mack on a few run defense snaps.

Attachou played 167 snaps against the run and Jones played 263 last season.

The reality is that Jones is not just a Trevathan backup, but not just a Quinn backup either. The Bears can use him in both areas knowing that he is strong against the run and as a blitzer, and knowing that he has lined up between the guards, but also outside of the tackles.

Next. What can Bears expect from Danny Trevathan. dark

The Bears can use Jones, Trevathan, Smith, and Mack as their four “Linebackers”, and then convert to Quinn, Jones, Smith, and Mack if needed. On the cuff, Jones is not pegged in for “starter” snaps.

However, you could likely expect him on the field closer to the 45% he saw last season which is not something you would see from a typical backup linebacker.