Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic discussed the curious, and unfortunate, case of Jones while answering mailbag questions on Thursday, November 9.
“During training camp, Jones looked like a new player. He caught every punt. He was making plays as a receiver. Then he struggled in the preseason and was inactive in Week 1,” Fishbain wrote. “The physical talent is there, but with Equanimeous St. Brown and Khalil Herbert set to return from injured reserve, I could see Jones being a healthy scratch. I’m not sure [GM Ryan] Poles is ready to cut a third-round pick in the middle of the season. Despite Jones’ rare speed and size combo, the results aren’t there.”
Velus Jones Has Made Array of Costly Mistakes in Short NFL Career with Bears
Jones has struggled with ball security over his 1.5-year career, though it was a mistake of a different sort that had special teams coordinator Richard Hightower speaking critically and publicly about Jones’ shortcomings following a loss last weekend to the New Orleans Saints.
Aside from returning kickoffs, and punts briefly in 2022, Jones is also a gunner on special teams, which means his responsibility is to get downfield as fast as possible when the Bears are punting or kicking off and tackle the opponent’s return man.
Down 24-17 in the final minutes of the fourth quarter in New Orleans last Sunday, Chicago punted the ball out of its own end zone. Officials whistled Jones for a face mask penalty during coverage, which cost the Bears 15 yards of field position and allowed the Saints to start their drive from inside field-goal range at Chicago’s 36-yard-line.
“It is an unacceptable penalty,” Hightower said. “Because we pride ourselves on situational football. In that situation, we could have had the ball at the 50-yard line against an outstanding punt returner. And that was a beautiful punt by Trent [Gill] and beautiful coverage.”