GM Ryan Poles immediately understood one of the biggest problems with the Chicago Bears when he took over. The offensive line was weak. It lacked talent, depth, and an aggressive, nasty mentality he deemed vital to success in the NFL. So, for the past two years, he has spent time, energy, and resources trying to retool the unit into something other teams must respect. It appears he has accomplished that task to a certain degree. Chicago ranks 5th in rushing this season while allowing only four sacks in the past four games.
They aren’t perfect, but it’s becoming apparent they have some legitimate talent up front. People around the NFL seem to agree. Insider Bob McGinn of Go Long TD spoke to several scouts about the state of the NFC North division, covering every position group. The Bears got lots of positive feedback on their offensive line. Most of it centered around the trio of Braxton Jones, Teven Jenkins, and Darnell Wright. All three look like long-term fixtures for this franchise and exactly what Poles wants.
“I really like Jones,” one scout said. “He came from a (small) program (Southern Utah). He needed to improve his lower-body strength, and he did this year.”
Jenkins was drafted early in the second round as a tackle but now finds himself at right guard. “He’s a monster,” said one scout. “He goes after people. Better run blocker than pass blocker now. He’s their No. 1 lineman.”
Wright, the No. 10 pick in April, is learning by trial and error. “Super physical in the run game,” said one scout. “He’s a mauler. You wish he was a little more consistent in pass pro. He has some penalty issues as well. You see a lot of tools to work with. He’s a rookie and he’ll get better.”
The Chicago Bears might be one piece away from something big.
It sounds like they have three young pieces that, health permitting, could push the Bears’ offense into the realm of respectability. The same goes for free agent addition Nate Davis, who played well whenever he was on the field. One issue remains. That is the center spot. Lucas Patrick is the starter, but nobody believes he has what it takes to hold the job long-term. Cody Whitehair is aging and not the player he was a few years ago. They need an upgrade in the middle they can rely on. If they can find it, the entire group might come together.
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Credit must be given to Poles. He was the one who pinpointed Jones and Wright as building blocks. It is the first time in many years a GM has successfully been able to scout offensive tackles. That and the decision to shift Jenkins inside to guard has the Chicago Bears poised for something significant. If they can get a workable offensive system in place and find a credible quarterback, lots of points might not be far behind. It is strange to hear these things after several years of ineptitude.