The Chicago Bears offensive line faced a stiff test right out of the gate against Aaron Donald and that fierce L.A. Rams front. Their performance wasn’t overly great. They allowed three sacks. However, it also wasn’t as bad as people thought it would be. David Montgomery went for over 100 yards, averaging 6.8 per carry and Andy Dalton had some decent pockets at times. While a number of members had difficult evenings, Sam Mustipher wasn’t one of them.
After all the talk for the past month about his iffy status as the long-term starter, the third-year center delivered the best performance of any blocker. Not only was he a key component of Montgomery’s breakout game, but he also didn’t allow a single pressure in 45 pass blocking snaps. That is saying something considering he stared down the best interior pass rusher in the NFL on a number of those occasions.
This should offer plenty of encouragement.
Chicago isn’t going to face Donald every week this season. There is a strong possibility their offensive line will have much better games in the near future. Especially along the interior. Cody Whitehair and James Daniels are already solid players at guard despite their uneven night in Los Angeles. If Mustipher continues to play like this? Then the Bears suddenly might have a foundation in place for their future.
Then it becomes a matter of whether Teven Jenkins, Larry Borom, or both end up being quality tackles for them. That could really set things up nicely for Justin Fields when he eventually becomes the starting quarterback. If nothing else, it furthers one of the best underdog stories this team has seen in years.
Sam Mustipher was never supposed to happen
Think about it. Going into 2019, the Bears had not one but two options at center. There was the incumbent Cody Whitehair who’d held the job since 2016 and then there was James Daniels. The man many felt the team had drafted to take over for Whitehair at some point. Mustipher was nothing more than an undrafted free agent out of Notre Dame who was an emergency option they could stash on the practice squad.
Then, as it so often does, fate intervened. In the space of just a couple of weeks during the 2020 season, both Whitehair and Daniels went down with injuries. Just like that, the emergency option was in play. Sam Mustipher stepped in and didn’t blow his opportunity. He played well enough to earn the job for the rest of the season. In that time he won over coaches and teammates for his intelligence, toughness, and leadership.
Now here he is. Making a career for himself.
Such players are easy to cheer for. Mustipher is an exclusive rights free agent in 2022. So the Bears should be able to hang onto him cheap for one more season. However, depending on how much he continues to improve they may look to lock him up for longer than that in the months to come. Either way, he has become another quality undrafted find by GM Ryan Pace.