When the Detroit Lions take on the Chicago Bears, it will be a case of two teams heading in opposite directions. For the Bears, they are getting healthy at the right time, and the Lions are looking to survive the next few weeks and get healthy for the playoffs.
The Chicago Bears need Braxton Jones at his best
One key addition to the Bears in recent weeks is left tackle Braxton Jones. PFF grades do not show everything, but Jones has a 68.7 overall grade, a 65.2 run block grade, and an 81.6 pass block grade. In comparison, Larry Borom was at 48 overall, 50.3 in run blocking, and 45.2 in pass blocking in the eight games that he played. This Bears offense is significantly better with Braxton Jones.
In the week 11 game against the Lions, there was an upgrade with Jones on the field, but it was one of his worst games in pass protection. This was disappointing because Aidan Hutchinson spent a lot of his time against Darnell Wright, so Braxton Jones just had to block Charles Harris and Julian Okwars, but still did not have his best day.
This cannot happen this week. The Lions are without Alim McNeil, their second-best lineman behind Aidan Hutchinson. These two are the foundation of the defense. Without McNeil, all attention has to be on Hutchinson. With all resources on Hutchinson, the rest of the linemen have to win their one-on-ones.
These will not be the strongest tests of the year, and if someone like Braxton Jones wants to prove that he can be the left tackle for the future with the Bears, then he has to be able to win matchups like this without help. What do we see from Jones this weekend? Do we see him take a step now that he is healthy, back into the swing, and fresh out of the bye week? Or does he show that left tackle could still be a question?