The Chicago Bears offensive line hasn’t been perfect this year. It is a flawed unit in many ways. That said, nobody can say it’s been useless. Despite obvious talent questions, the group has helped pave the way for the #1 rushing attack in the NFL. That doesn’t happen without a total commitment from everybody to play a physical brand of football. Several guys have stepped up their aggressiveness this year. Cody Whitehair remains an underrated force at left guard. Rookie Braxton Jones has taken major strides over the past two months. Then there is Teven Jenkins, who is fast becoming the next Olin Kreutz-like enforcer.
It turns out this sudden physical style wasn’t brought about by accident. Bears coaches wanted to find ways to encourage more violence from their front five. So offensive line coach Chris Morgan got creative. According to Adam Jahns of The Athletic, he instituted a system that rewarded blockers every time they put a defender on the turf. Remember in training camp last year how the wide receivers and secondary swapped a championship belt based on who won practice? Well, this is the same idea.
The Bears track the pancakes made by linemen each game — “The belt’s changed hands quite a few times,” line coach Chris Morgan said — and it’s a title that Jenkins wants to win.
Some players are just better at it than others. They like and look for it. They want to push piles, clean them up and take care of their teammates.
“A lot of guys try to do it, but most guys aren’t as big and as strong as Teven,” Morgan told The Athletic. “Like Teven is a big, strong man. There’s not a lot of guys in this league who are as big and as strong as he is. So when you put it all together with a guy that’s looking to do that and trying to do that, you have a chance to have something special.”
Expect the Chicago Bears to feed the beast in 2023.
That is to say; they will likely target more players that fit this mentality. GM Ryan Poles said he wanted more nastiness up front. He wants the Bears to be the aggressors in the trenches. That problem haunted them for most of the Matt Nagy era. Opponents openly called them not physical enough to win football games. That won’t be acceptable. Poles is going back to an old George Halas tradition. The Bears will win one of two things on Sundays, the game or the fight. Either way, teams will have to respect them.
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It will be interesting to see what changes are made in the spring. Jenkins and Jones look like they’re locks to stay put. That means left guard, center, and right tackle will be addressed. Whitehair may return for one more year despite his advancing age. Center is probably the biggest issue. Sam Mustipher isn’t the answer, and Lucas Patrick can’t stay healthy. Morgan has lots of work to do. It won’t be a surprise if the Chicago Bears spend significant money and draft capital on that group before the end of next May.