INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP)Velus Jones Jr. slipped and fell on his rear while he slowed down for Tyson Bagent’s underthrown pass. Still, no Chargers defenders were anywhere near him when the ball fell straight through Jones’ arms, hit his chest and landed on the end zone turf.
That dropped touchdown pass was probably the lowest point of yet another rough game for the Chicago Bears (2-6) – and nobody in their locker room was more visibly, gut-wrenchingly disappointed than Jones after Los Angeles’ 30-13 victory Sunday night.
“It’s real devastating,” the second-year receiver said, his pained emotions obvious on his face and in his voice.
“You prepare all week in practice and put in the work that’s needed, and you catch that 100 times after practice, 100 times on the JUGS (machine), and you get that small window of opportunity to show what you can do, and it don’t happen for you,” he added. “I feel like everything happens for a reason, and I feel like this is a great opportunity for me to learn from and get back to work on that same route when I get back to practice. But it definitely sucks. Everything was wrong.”
Although the Bears ended up recovering from that second-quarter drop and scoring a touchdown later on the drive, Jones’ miscue was the latest in a series of NFL lowlights for the former USC and Tennessee receiver.
The third-round pick was chosen by Chicago for his speed and playmaking ability, but Jones has only 10 career receptions for 116 yards so far.
He has also become a lightning rod for criticism from angry Bears fans after his mistakes both as a kick returner and a receiver: After the drop, social media lit up with demands for Jones to be left in Los Angeles.
Jones’ career has been particularly grim in the win-loss column: He has only been in uniform for three NFL victories, and last week’s win over the Raiders was the first time he made a reception in a victory.
Jones’ only other target from Bagent was a 4-yard catch in the first quarter, but he already knew he was in for another week as a symbol for the organizational failures of the Bears, who have lost 19 of their last 22 games.
“I am frustrated,” Jones said. “You work so hard throughout the week. I feel like moments like this is when you find yourself, so I’m not going to let that play determine who I am. I know I’m a deep-ball threat. I know I’m fast. I know I’m a playmaker with the ball in my hands, so I’m not going to let that play define who I am. When that play comes again, I’ll just make a play on it.”
Jones also committed a key penalty on special teams, running into Chargers punt returner Derius Davis on a fair catch. The 15-yard penalty greatly improved Los Angeles’ field position, and the Bolts drove for their second touchdown and an early 14-0 lead.
“I was pushed into the punt returner,” Jones said. “It just all happened so fast. I’m out there trying to play fast and put my team in the best situation possible. It just sucks. It’s unfortunate. I hurt the team, for sure. I’ll watch film. There’s probably something I could have done different, but I was just trying to hustle and make sure he fair-caught the ball.”
Jones was far from the only Bears skill-position player who had a night to forget. Chicago averaged 2.9 yards per rushing attempt, while playmaking receiver D.J. Moore was targeted just once in the second half while the Bears attempted to rally out of their deficit.
Bagent passed for 232 yards with two interceptions in his second career start, showing only modest promise while leading just one scoring drive in the first 3 1/2 quarters.
The rookie quarterback wasn’t about to blame Jones for dropping his underthrown ball.
“Yeah, I felt good about it,” Bagent said of the throw. “But I’m always going to trust the guys that are out there. I have full faith in Velus. I’ve seen him make plays like that many a time. If that happens again next week and the week after that, still going to make it a point to get him the ball.”
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