The Chicago Bears got mixed results from their offensive line in 2022. That wasn’t a huge surprise. They had few proven starters, to begin with. New offensive line coach Chris Morgan had the tough task of sorting through the options on the roster and putting together the best five he could. All things considered, he did a solid job. His choice to start Braxton Jones, a rookie, at left tackle was surprising but worked out. Moving Teven Jenkins inside to right guard proved even more fruitful. Everything else was disappointing.
That wasn’t entirely his fault. Injuries played a big part in the line’s struggles. Cody Whitehair, Lucas Patrick, and others suffered multiple health setbacks. The Bears never truly fielded their intended starting five all season. As a result, Justin Fields took a lot of punishment. Morgan was happy with how the unit blocked in the run game, racking up the most yards on the ground in franchise history. Still, his words to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune indicated a clear plan for the 2023 off-season.
They will seek out better pass protectors.
“We all go in-depth. Whether it’s evaluations, whether it’s studying, whether it’s back and forth, why it’s this guy or that guy. There are a lot of building blocks that have been laid. A lot of foundation that has been laid. We do have an identity. We do have toughness. It is cool to see the run game go as well as it’s gone. There are a lot of positives to look through and build on. Pass pro? One hundred percent we have to be better.”
Chris Morgan understands reality.
The Bears had the best running game in franchise history this season. Yet they still ended up with the worst record in the NFL. Sure, part of their losing woes came from a badly depleted defense. However, an equally big problem was their inability to throw the ball. Chicago allowed 58 sacks this season, one of the worst performances by a Bears offensive line in the modern era. Fields can’t function as a quarterback when he constantly has guys in his face. They can get a more precise evaluation of him once they shore up his protection.
Thankfully it appears this draft class isn’t short on options. There are multiple tackles, guards, and centers that can help solve this issue. The challenge for the Bears will be landing they. Right now, they only have one pick in the top 50 of this draft. That can change if they trade down from #1 overall, but that isn’t guaranteed. Chris Morgan and the scouting department may have to get creative (and a bit lucky) to find the solutions they’re looking for. At least they have a clear plan in mind.
Since when has the paradigm for an NFL team rebuild involved allowing younger, better players to walk (25-year old James Daniels, zero sacks allowed with the Steelers) and replacing them with high-priced, aging veterans; career back-ups; and first round “busts” — AKA: Reiff (34-years old, $7.5MM); Patrick (29.years old, $8MM over 2 years); and Leatherwood ($5.9MM/2 years)?
Asking for a friend.
I actually have played the offensive line at a competitive level. But that experience isn’t required to notice the many missteps that GM Ryan Poles has made with the Bears.
He’ll have free agency and the 2023 NFL draft to redeem himself. I wish him good luck.
I find it hilarious that people are pointing to signings by Poles of players that failed to impress. WTF does anyone expect him to do with what (and where) he started. You are not going to get All-Pros with what we had to offer. Tear down is the 1st stage of rebuild. Poles has done well I believe. His plan was obvious. Don’t sell the farm for the present and find a couple adequate players from many inexpensive “prove it” contracts. The odds against it is obvious.
It seems this thread has a lot of armchair scouts. Spectating has been turned into an art form. Abstract, mostly.
Do we have another Phil Emery posting who doesn’t have a clue