The Bears allowed the second most sacks last year. The only team to allow more sacks was the Denver Broncos. Some of the sacks could be blamed on the inexperience play of the quarterback. Yet, both my eyes and the statistics would tell a story that pins the offensive line at fault.
Rookie Left Tackle Braxton Jones looked good at times, more so in the run game. Pro Football Focus (PFF) ranked Jones as the 40th best pass blocker of 80, often getting caught being to vertical when being attacked by a bull rush or stab. Jones ranked 11th in rush blocking. Luckily, the Bears rushed 558 times during the regular season compared to only 377 passing attempts in the same timespan.
When looking at other players that shared time on the line, it is evident the Bears needed to run. Sam Mustipher had most time at the Center position for the Bears. Mustipher showed to be more than willing to put a hat on a hat in the run game. I also believe he helped tremendously in the screen pass game, getting into space as a lead blocker. Yet, when being put into traditional passing situations he would get bullied. I understand not many centers can match the strength and power of Giants defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence. Yet, in week 4 it was often Lawrence’s finesse moves that won the one on one matches. Of the 37 qualifying centers last season Mustipher ranked 30th according to PFF.
Riley Reiff and Larry Borom split duties at right tackle last season. Combined they allowed 8 sacks and 32 quarterback pressures. In there defense 4 of the 8 sacks came in their week 14 matchup against the Eagles. Both edge rushers Haason Reddick and Josh Sweat got to Justin Fields twice. Even so the two never looked comfortable in the offense. They showed better passing abilities most others on the line but seemed like a liability in the run game.
Second year guard Teven Jenkins proved to be the best player on the line for the Bears before his neck injury. Jenkins came out of Oklahoma State known for his strength, he is a mauler. Moving him to the guard position from his original right tackle position made a difference.
Where to Go From Here
The signing of Nate Davis was more of what the Bears already have. Decent run defender that will do ok in pass protection.
The Bears need someone to lock down their part of the line. Pro Bowl tackle Laremy Tunsil name has been passed around. With the Bears cap space Tunsil seems like a logical pick up. Yet, because of his talent level and ability they may have to give up more than they would want to acquire him.
Another scenario could find Peter Skoronski, the versatile tackle out of Northwestern. There is potential for him to drop to the 9 spot. This give the Bears the most options along the O-line.
The draft is not deep for offensive lineman. Unfortunately, the bears need plug and play players to help their young star QB now.
With the addition of D.J. Moore and another year under Justin Fields belt. The Bears need to make the right moves to give Fields a little more time in the backfield without him having to use his legs. The team will be able to run the ball, which is the strength of the line at the moment. It does not take an entire haul to make this right.