Eberflus gives pointed criticism of Velus Jones fumble


It’s really hard to call any player a bust after just one season, but the Bears are going to be hard-pressed to trust Velus Jones on offense moving forward. Jones battled back from a disastrous start to his season, and had a bigger role on Sunday than he’s had in weeks. But once again he had trouble holding on to the ball and fumbled on an end around play. After the game, Matt Eberflus was frank and didn’t hide his displeasure with the rookie.

“Yeah, I don't like that,” Eberflus said. “I don't like it. I don't like when guys lose the football. It's not good. Guys have to do a better job securing the ball. Again, I’ll have to look at the tape, but when you’re in traffic you have to have five points of pressure against the ball and put your clasp hand over your over hand.”

When recounting the play, Jones understood where he went wrong, too.

“I’m an aggressive runner, so I’m going to fight for extra yards instead of running out of bounds,” Jone said. “I had one blocker out there, I think it was three (defenders). I tried to like split ‘em, but I’ve gotta put two hands on the ball. I think someone had ripped it out from the back. So, yeah, just focus on that ball security. The ball is everything. “

Jones missed much of the summer program due to a hamstring injury and didn’t make his NFL debut until Week 4 against the Giants. He didn’t play on offense that game, and made more of a negative impact than a positive impact on special teams. Jones muffed a punt with just over two minutes left in the game, ending a comeback bid before it began. Two weeks later Jones muffed another punt. That one set up the Washington Commanders’ game-winning touchdown on Thursday Night Football. Jones hasn’t been seen on punts since, and has been scarce on offense. His main role has been returning kickoffs, but he’s been a non-factor except for one 55-yard return against the Falcons in Week 11.

That brings us back to Jones’ opportunity to take a step forward over the last month of the season, and how he may have let it slip away, just like he let the ball slip away on his third-quarter fumble.

“That’s behind me now,” Jones said. “There’s nothing I can do about it now. Just keep a positive attitude and keep coming back to work.”

Despite Eberflus’ pointed criticism for Jones, he made sure to say the Bears aren’t quitting on developing him, and they don’t want him to quit on himself.

“He’s gotta stay encouraged, he’s gotta keep working, he’s gotta do the things right,” Eberflus said. “I know he can do it and we’ll coach him to do that way. We’ll see where it goes.”

As for Jones, he’s always managed to keep his eyes looking forward to his next opportunity, rather than dwelling on his past mistakes. For all his mistakes, he’s never allowed his head to drop in the locker room and has faced the criticism head-on. That won’t change now.

“That’s something that’s just gotta be in you, just your mindset,” Jones said. “That’s how I was raised.”

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