Justin Fields' departure could ignite breakout season from this Chicago Bears player

Justin Fields could have been a larger problem than realized.
Chicago Bears v New England Patriots
Chicago Bears v New England Patriots / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

The Chicago Bears will have a new-look offense during the 2024 NFL season. The team added D'Andre Swift, Keenan Allen, Rome Oduze, and Gerald Everett to boost an offense that will also feature a change at the quarterback position.

The Bears have drawn criticism this offseason for their plan to protect rookie quarterback Caleb Williams. The only significant moves the Bears made on the offensive line were trading for Ryan Bates and signing Coleman Shelton to a one-year deal.

Bates and Shelton will undoubtedly improve the Bears' offensive line depth, but many still believe that the team has a glaring question mark at left tackle.

Well, not everyone.

Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus recently listed five offensive line candidates in line for a breakout season and one of the players he listed was none other than Braxton Jones. For Monson, Jones' improvement could come through the way of Fields' departure.

"Jones wasn’t helped by the play of Justin Fields, even if he was occasionally bailed out on individual plays. Fields could certainly escape the occasional quick pressure, but he was also the architect of a lot of pressure and held onto the ball longer than any other player in the game, stressing the protection in front of him.

With a new quarterback behind him, Jones may look significantly better in Year 3 and will hopefully be healthy once again, showing a true ceiling of what he can become at this level."

Pro Football Focus

The biggest point of contention for Jones was that he did not take a step forward in his development during the 2023 season. There is no doubt he exceeded expectations for proving to be an adequate starting tackle in the NFL despite being selected in the fifth round, but that shouldn't be the reason Jones keeps his starting spot. Perhaps the Bears are aware of that fact, and that drove the selection of Kiran Amegadjie in the third round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

Still, Jones, along with the rest of the Bears' offensive line, deserve an opportunity to prove that their struggles in recent seasons were, in part, due to Fields' inability to get the ball out on time.