Can Braxton Jones be the anchor of the Chicago Bears offensive line?

Chicago Bears - Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
Chicago Bears - Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports /

The Chicago Bears have plenty of holes on this roster. The defensive line needs an overhaul, the offensive line could use a few new starters and that’s just the start. The wide receiver group needs an alpha and the linebacker group needs to find someone to pair with Jack Sanborn. Luckily, the Chicago Bears and Ryan Poles have the first-overall pick to go along with the most salary cap space this offseason. The question is, what will they do with all of those tools at their disposal? Hopefully, Braxton Jones at left tackle is one area they feel somewhat comfortable with though.

Braxton Jones was not supposed to be the answer at left tackle for the Bears this season. However, he pushed his way into the starting lineup ahead of players like Teven Jenkins and Larry Borom. He even pushed Riley Reiff to the bottom of the depth chart. This is great for the franchise if he’s able to truly be that guy, but do we really know that yet?

Jones’ 2022 season was up and down, but he was the only player on the offensive line to not miss a start at his position. He was solid most of the season but struggled against strong, bull-rush type of pass rushers. The Washington game really showcased how bad Braxton Jones was against these types of defenders. He picked his game back up again, but then came crashing back down to earth again vs the Lions and Vikings to end the season. It’s difficult to know if he’s truly going to be able to handle being the Chicago Bears starting left tackle going forward though.

Well, if you ask Jones himself, he sure thinks he can be that guy.

"“I want to be that guy. I want to put in the work in the offseason, too, to be that guy and be a cornerstone for this organization. I feel like, obviously, I’ve got a lot of work to do, but just personally, in the way I try and act around the building, I want to be here as long as possible and I feel like I could be a cornerstone for that left tackle position, so I definitely think I do gotta get, obviously, a lot better in certain situations.”"

I’m not sure if Braxton Jones can handle becoming the anchor of the offensive line going forward, but what we do know is how personally he takes his job.

"“I really take it personal in keeping Justin clean,” Jones said. “I think that’s the biggest thing for me; if he’s clean and the runner is clean and we’re making good strides as an offense. I’m a team player. I’m not here to get a badge for being just a guy that’s just doing his job. I want to succeed as a team and stuff like that, so that’s the biggest thing for me.”"

Jones’ work ethic should be good enough to at least give him a shot at holding the position in 2023. If you are a fan of Pro Football Focus (PFF), then you’ll love his PFF grade. Jones gave up seven sacks and committed 12 penalties, but somehow, they have his overall grade as 75.4. His pass-blocking grade is 70.5 and his run-blocking grade is 79.4. I’ll admit that I think his run-blocking is above average, but I don’t agree with their pass-blocking grade at all. If I were Ryan Poles, I’d bring in some competition at all levels of the offensive line, including left tackle.