When the Chicago Bears hired Juan Castillo in 2020, the general feeling is head coach Matt Nagy wanted somebody he was more familiar with. However, after having time to evaluate the situation at hand, it’s clear Nagy was shooting for something different. He wanted Castillo to put his particular stamp on the Bears offensive line. What that stamp is wasn’t clear at first. However, after two offseasons to evaluate? Castillo has indeed changed how this team approaches their front five.
Early last year, former Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long had a quote that really stuck out. When his brother Kyle and the Bears played them in the playoffs back in 2018, he asked if Chicago could’ve won the Super Bowl had they gotten past the Eagles in that wild card game. Long immediately said no. The reason why? In his mind, the Bears offensive line just wasn’t physical enough.
It’s fair to wonder if Castillo reached the same realization when he took over.
That is because since he arrived, the Bears have significantly altered their approach in evaluating offensive linemen. While they still place a high demand on athleticism and mobility, there is one added necessity they’ve begun to prioritize as well. Nastiness. Castillo wanted guys up front who are glass-chewers. Blockers who were unafraid to play to the echo of the whistle. Who would impose their will on defenders.
Just look at almost every noteworthy player they’ve added since last offseason. Germain Ifedi, Lachavious Simmons, Dieter Eiselen, Teven Jenkins, and Larry Borom. All came in with reputations for being guys who loved to bully defensive linemen at every opportunity. Those who were known for being a little too passive and easy to overpower were rotated out like Rashaad Coward and Charles Leno Jr.
The #Bears wisely utilize some pre-snap motion to confuse Detroit’s defense. Germain Ifedi in particular looks dominant here at the point of attack, while Demetrius Harris and Cole Kmet both make key blocks against the wide-9 EDGE and the box safety, respectively. pic.twitter.com/77KaWFl6qh
— Jacob Infante (@jacobinfante24) September 17, 2020
You can call him Pig.
No really, OL Lachavious Simmons goes by Pig. pic.twitter.com/1UXETNrFKz
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) April 25, 2020
— Jarrett Payton (@paytonsun) May 1, 2021
Larry Borom Bears fans pic.twitter.com/cS9FnfZTJL
— Omega Annoyed Bears Fan (@Jo3yTheGod) May 1, 2021
Juan Castillo wants to make the Bears the aggressor
No more sitting back and letting the opponent dictate the tempo of the game. He wants this Bears team to set the tone on every snap. To let the defense know it’s going to be a 60-minute dogfight. This is a mentality the offensive line hasn’t really had in almost a decade. It’s one that tends to define the best eras of Bears football. The mid-2000s? The 1980s? Both exhibited physical blocking up front.
Credit to Juan Castillo for wanting to bring that back. Everything about this recent offseason says it is the Bears’ goal. Not just from their offensive line additions but also the noteworthy moves at running back. Adding Damien Williams and Khalil Herbert are clear indications Chicago plans to run the ball with more determination this season.
It is all about one word: control.
The Bears want to control the flow of games. To control the scoreboard. To do that? They must control the line of scrimmage. Something they haven’t really done since 2018 and even then it wasn’t all that great. Castillo decided to put greater emphasis on traits like attitude and power for his offensive linemen. It’ll be exciting to see if this altered approach starts to yield results in 2021.