One can understand why the media and Chicago Bears fans are nervous about the offensive line. It struggled quite a bit in the preseason and wasn’t good for more than half of 2020. Now they’re relying on a 39-year old left tackle and a right tackle who missed most of training camp and was originally supposed to be a guard. It shouldn’t be a shock that optimism is low right now. That said, at least one bright spot exists. That is Cody Whitehair.
It really is a shame that people don’t appreciate what the veteran blocker has done for this team. He arrived as a left tackle from Kansas State. The initial plan was to shift him to left guard. Then Hroniss Grasu tore his ACL. Whitehair shifted to center for the first time in his career and ended up helping Jordan Howard to the Pro Bowl. He’d hold that job until 2019, making the Pro Bowl himself along the way. Then he stepped aside for James Daniels to take over in the middle. Eight games later, Whitehair was shifted back when Daniels struggled.
In 2020, the challenges continued.
As injuries mounted, he tried holding the line together. Then he contracted COVID-19. When he returned, the Bears once again planned to have him change positions. This time back to left guard. Once again, he did so without complaint. The line rebounded and helped the team reach the playoffs. Lost in this madness surrounding this group over the past several months is how much Whitehair improved since taking over that spot.
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In the 8 games at center in 2020, Whitehair allowed 18 pressures and two sacks on the QB. Since shifting to left guard, he has allowed just six pressures and one sack in his last 10 appearances. That sack coming in the first game after the switch. If that weren’t enough, Pro Football Focus gave him a run blocking grade of 83.8. His two best performances coming after the switch to left guard. His grade this preseason is 88.0. It is apparent he is playing some of the best football of his career.
David Montgomery goes untouched for a 14 yard touchdown… but my 👀 go directly to the LG, Cody Whitehair. He’s got my favorite block of the weekend and a dominating 🥞 block. Check it out @ChicagoBears pic.twitter.com/CJUF4hTQWI
— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) December 21, 2020
Cody Whitehair. Glue him to the left guard position for the rest of eternity pic.twitter.com/ZPgPGMGSM1
— Barroom Network (@BarroomNetwork) December 13, 2020
Cody Whitehair is finally where he belongs
The evidence is overwhelming. While he was never a bad center, it was clear he and that position never fully clicked. Everything from the snapping issues to the occasional confusion in protection. It was obvious he was never supposed to be there. He was only there because the Bears couldn’t find anybody capable of filling the spot. How ironic it ended up being a former undrafted free agent in Mustipher who made it happen.
It’s amazing to think Cody Whitehair is still just 29-years old. He is squarely in his prime If this trajectory he is on continues, there is a real chance he could end up making his second Pro Bowl in the near future. At a different position, no less. That isn’t nearly as easy as it sounds. Another reminder that the guy is far better than he gets credit for. GM Ryan Pace doesn’t have many offensive draft picks he can hang his hat on.
Whitehair is by far his best to date.
It is interesting to wonder what might’ve happened had Grasu not gotten hurt back in 2016. If Whitehair had been able to stay put at left guard. Would he be viewed as one of the best at his position in the NFL right now? The way he’s played lately doesn’t dismiss such an idea. Either way, it feels like the Bears have something cooking on the left side of their line. If Jason Peters can deliver some of his old magic, the team might be okay.