By Kevin Schrock
After having to spend most of his rookie season for the Chicago Bears on the sideline, University of Findlay alum Harold Jones-Quartey had a breakout game Sunday, Dec. 27. He made a highlight reel interception, forced a fumble, and added four tackles to his stat sheet. A week later the Ghana native tallied seven tackles against the Detroit Lions in the season finale.
Through limited playing time in the first 14 games of the season, Jones-Quartey had notched 14 tackles but was still hungry for more.
“It was a humbling experience for me,” said Jones-Quartey. “It was frustrating at times but it gave me time to grow and become a better professional.”
Finally, the Bears, who finished the season 6-10, gave Jones-Quartey his chance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Bucaneers quarterback Jameis Winston found himself in the red zone poised to score before he lofted a pass toward the end zone where Jones-Quartey was defending. He wrestled the ball away and took it back 23-yards.
“I was waiting for that chance my whole life and once it happened I was going to make sure I made something out of it,” added Jones-Quartey. “I was just trying to do anything I could to help our team win and to gain my coaches’ trust.”
After having started a few games for the Bears earlier in the year, having to spend a lot of time on the bench afterwards gave the former Oiler plenty of time to prepare for his second chance. This time he was leaving nothing to doubt.
“The coaches did a good job of pointing that play out in practice all week,” said Jones-Quartey. “I made the same play a few times during those practices but when it happened in the game I couldn’t believe it.”
As for his second play, it was all about the youngster’s hustle.
“Our coaches told us before the game that if we wanted to stop their running game we were going to have to play physical,” said Jones-Quartey.
They had good reason to worry considering Doug Martin was the NFL’s second leading rusher coming in to the day. Jones-Quartey came in with the mindset of being physical and after laying a huge hit on Martin the ball popped free and the Bears hopped on top.
Although nothing is secured for the rookie, he feels that his performance in the final few games definitely improved his chances for staying in the NFL, but even he isn’t sure how the whole process works now that the season is over.
“I’m not too sure where I go from here,” laughed Jones-Quartey. “This is my first time going through all of this too.”
One thing for sure is that he has proved he can play at the NFL level. Now he will have to once more play the waiting game.