Bears Offensive line should be an offseason focus
|Wednesday, February 12, 2020, 8:55 AM- -|
There will be some changes made to the Bears roster this season, and that is no secret. However, what exactly will those changes be? Will competition be brought in for Mitch Trubisky, will the Bears look to cut some payroll in hopes of improving the roster in different positions. Whatever the case will be, this team has some work to do to get back to playoff football.
However, one change we can all agree upon, and if you ask me, it should be the primary focus of the offseason. That change is fixing the offensive line. I don’t care how good of a QB you are. If you don’t have a running game or protection, you are not going to succeed. That summed up Trubisky’s season in a nutshell as the Bears offensive line was to put it lightly awful a season ago.
Not only did the team struggle to score points as they have done often, but they ranked near the bottom in yards per game and yards per carry rushing the ball. That posses as a big problem for young QB who has not consistently shown he can carry a team to victory on his own. Should the Bears elect to fix this problem, which should be their top priority, we should finally see what Trubisky all about as the offense is would be able to do more. At least we hope so.
As of right now, Cody Whitehair, Charles Leno Jr, Bobby Massie and James Daniels are locked into offensive line contracts in 2020. Having 80% of your line covered and back for another season is good in terms of continuity, but 2019 was still a struggle for this group. Injuries did have a huge role in those struggles, but when healthy this group showed inconsistent play, and even starter a converted Nose tackle at RG most of the year.
Not only are the Bears losing Kyle Long (retired), but TJ Clemmons, Ted Larsen and Cornelius Lucas are leaving into free agency putting the Bears depth to the test right now. That depth could become even thinner as Leno JR and Massie are rumored to potential cuts on this roster which would leave the Bears with two starters on the line not four. With that being said, I don’t see the Bears cutting anyone of their four starters as it wouldn’t help them long or short term.
The Bears are going to look at both free agency and the draft in terms of fixing the line, but before they can do that, they need to figure out where Whitehair and Daniels are going to play long term. Once they do that, they will have a better picture as to what spots on the line need the most significant upgrades.
With new OL coach Juan Castillo now calling the shots, look for a more cohesive and physical unit upfront that will have two goals in mind. Goal one would be to control the line of scrimmage and open the running lanes while goal two would be to protect the QB. I would love to see what Castillo can do with the guys the Bears currently have before any major changes are made.
Ideally, I would love for the Bears to find a strong lineman in the draft, but if they go to the free-agent market, tons of options are available. Joe Thuney (New England) and Brandon Scherff (Washington) are the two top guards available in the free-agent class, and both won’t come cheap. Not only that, plenty of other teams will be looking to add their services, and with the Bears, current cap restrictions building in the draft may end up being their best option.
Judging by what we saw a season ago, the whole line could be replaced if the Bears had the money to do so. They don’t, and I don’t know how you could replace five starters on any line from one season to the next and expect to be improved in that area. The Bears are fortunate to have four starters back who not only have familiarity with one another but now have a new coach to try and form a connection with.
I look for the Bears to focus on replacing Long as their top focus on the line. They have enough guys that have the potential to improve, but replacing Long is what could make a huge difference. Long was not only a veteran but the heart and soul of that unit. Losing him was more than just losing a player. Let’s see who Chicago targets moving forward and what their ideas are.