The Chicago Bears wish they had an offensive line filled with Pro Bowlers. That hasn’t been the case since the 1980s, though. GM Ryan Poles knows that dominating up front is critical to offensive success. Especially where Justin Fields is concerned. If they can’t protect him, then he won’t be able to become the player Bears fans want him to be. Unfortunately, a lack of resources made it difficult for Poles to address the problem. That has left the team leaning on the hopeful development of Teven Jenkins and Larry Borom.
Last year, optimism was sky-high for the two draft picks. Former GM Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy were adamant they’d scored two potential starters at the tackle position. They never got many chances to show it. Jenkins missed most of the season recovering from back surgery. Borom suffered a high ankle sprain and had to move from left tackle to right tackle whenever he did play. The lack of continuity made their play somewhat inconsistent.
Now the 2022 season approaches.
Things haven’t changed much. Outside of veteran backup Julie’n Davenport and 5th round pick Braxton Jones, the Bears didn’t make any significant additions at tackle. This means that Jenkins and Borom are the favorites to start, barring an unexpected move. The good news is new offensive line coach Chris Morgan doesn’t seem upset by that idea. Though evaluating them is too difficult right now, he’s encouraged by the work they’ve put in thus far.
“Right now, it’s still way too early,” offensive line coach Chris Morgan said Tuesday. “It’s May. We’re not even in pads yet. Right now, we’re refining techniques, we’re introducing schemes, everything is fluid. Just moving guys around, that kind of deal, and more technical right now.
“I definitely did (pre-draft work on) both guys when they came out (last year), and a lot of the positives you see now. Both those guys are working really hard. They’re coming along. They want to win. They’re willing to do whatever. It’s been a nice surprise so far.”
It sounds like the Bears have the makings of a plan in place. Nothing definitive has happened yet, but it sounds like they favor the idea of having Borom at left tackle with Jenkins at right. This would make sense. Borom is considered the better pass protector of the two. Jenkins played most of his college career at right tackle. Having them in those spots should serve the offense best in the long run.
— Sky Kruse (@KruseSports_) December 21, 2021
4. Larry Borom didn't give up a single pressure on 41 pass block snaps against T.J. Watt according to Pro Football Focus.
He allowed one sack combined against him and Nick Bosa in consecutive weeks.
His first two starts ever.
— Erik Lambert (@ErikLambert1) November 9, 2021
Teven Jenkins and Larry Borom could fit the new offense well.
Luke Getsy plans to bring in the wide zone system that Kyle Shanahan, Sean McVay, and Matt Lafleur have used to such great success over the past five years. It demands offensive linemen that are smart and can move well in space. That shouldn’t be an issue for either second-year blocker. Borom’s strong footwork indicates his ability to move, while Jenkins had no problems picking off guys at the second level in college.
The tricky part for Borom will be his weight. He came in at 330 lbs last season. That might be on the heavy side for the demands of this offense. It wouldn’t be shocking if the team asked him to drop 10-15 lbs over the spring and summer. As for Teven Jenkins, his only thing is cleaning up his technique issues and staying healthy. If they take the typical second-year jump, the offensive line may not be a total disaster.
Then again, they’re not out of the woods yet.
Poles still has some veteran options on the free agent market he might consider. One or two others could be cut in August. So they can’t afford to be complacent. The next few months will be pivotal for their careers.