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Position-By-Position at the Bye: Offensive Line

| October 29th, 2014

kyle long

The following is part of a series of position-by-position breakdowns at the halftime point of the 2014 season.

Here is what we expected from the offensive line coming into the 2014 season: Bushrod, Slauson, Garza, Long, Mills. The sturdiness and dependability of these five men in 2013 was a key to the club’s offensive resurgence. Yes, Mills was a weaker link but Trestman and Kromer protected him brilliantly with a combination of actual tight ends and Even Britton lined up as a de facto tight end.

It is hard to judge this group on eight games of odd configurations. Bushrod missed time and was replaced by a player (Ola) with no business playing left tackle in the NFL. Slauson will have a lost season and is, in my opinion, the Bears best offensive lineman. Garza missed a ton and while the transition to de la Puente felt seamless, the Bears certainly missed his comfort and leadership along the line. Mills has continued to struggle but injury has not allowed the Bears to provide the protection of a year ago.

Kyle Long has been the only starter to stay on the field but how does one evaluate an offensive lineman with a rotating door of starters around him?

The line haven’t been bad. They haven’t been good. They’ve been serviceable and realistically not much more can be expected when they’ve had about a dozen snaps together as the expected starting unit.

Grade: Incomplete

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  • Huge Bear’s Penis

    We have always heard that it is easier for a line to run block than pass block. Yet we run the ball less than 40% of the time. With the injuries across the line i would have thought we would have run the ball a lot more. It not only helps out the line but the ball controlling run game would really help out our awful defense.

  • Jokey

    Garza’s gotta go. On run plays, he can trap block but has no push. On pass plays he can hinder a big space-eating tackle for a couple seconds while backpedaling, but usually is half of a double team on someone. And there’s no fire in him anymore, don’t know if there ever was any, for years he was just the quiet guy next to Kreutz.

    • Bears-4-Ever

      I didn’t even think Garza was good while next to Olin. He was a weak guard compared to most. As Center he’s unimpressive as well. We need 2 more “Long Caliber” Linemen, Put them where you like, I’d start with a new bad-to-da-bone center that can start in next years draft.

      • Scott W.

        Please don’t feed the Emery Clever Machine.
        You start yelling for a center out of the draft, and PE will trade Bennett for Nick Mangold.

      • NewBearInTown

        This line is decent as is. The weakness right now is at tackle. Mills is okay, but not great. The injury this year has given him an excuse for minimal improvement, but the team can’t wait forever.
        If we suck the rest of the season and end up picking inside the top 10, I will not complain one bit if that pick gets spent on a new tackle.

    • Donnnnn’t Caaaaarrrrrre!

      I would love to see the Bears in a position where it was 75% certain they could get .5 to 1.5 yards on a key 2nd or 3rd down using the run.
      With this team I actually feel better in a 3rd and 9 than a 3rd and 1. That should not be the case. Maybe it’s just me. Nothing worse than 4yds and 4yds on the first 2 plays then not converting a 3rd and 2.
      I call that “Dolphining”.

      • BillW

        Wife asleep already?

        • Donnnnn’t Caaaaarrrrrre!

          nope, at work waiting for meetings to start. Just emailing and blogging in the meantime. When I get home I shelve it until everyone is asleep.

          • BillW

            Just kidding…

          • Donnnnn’t Caaaaarrrrrre!

            She’s narcoleptic so technically she’s probably sleeping.

          • johnnywad

            Glad you’re not gonna miss Packer Week you bastard you. Rodgers…………..?

      • fun stat: Chicago has only run 2/3 of the time on 3rd and 4th or 1 this year, but they have converted 83% of those runs into 1st downs. I believe that meets your 75% threshold requirement.

        More to come next week, but the stats say Trestman’s short-yardage play calling this year has been beyond stupid.

        • BillW

          But of the 1/3 they passed, I wonder how many were called runs that Jay checked out of? Can’t know that, but I assume you’ll give us the success rate on the passes.

          • not gonna give spoilers, but it’s not nearly as high as the runs.

          • Peanut FTW

            3 of Jay’s INTs are on 3rd and 2 or 3rd and 1.

          • BillW

            The one against the Dolphins is burned in my brain because the middle was wide open. No need to audible or anything – take the snap, run three yards for the first, and slide.

        • Donnnnn’t Caaaaarrrrrre!

          That’s a good thing then. Here’s to continued success in that regard. What about 1.5 to 2 yards? Please research that for me.

          • oh, I’ve got the numbers, I just don’t want to give them all away yet.

          • Donnnnn’t Caaaaarrrrrre!

            give it.

          • Donnnnn’t Caaaaarrrrrre!

            I can’t read that without laughing. She’s not narcoleptic. She does hate the blog though.

  • OL has been really disappointing this year. I know injuries have hurt, but really everybody on this line outside of Bushrod has a capable backup.

    I’d really like to see them keep extra blockers in more on pass plays. Emphasize making Cutler comfortable in the pockets so he steps in to his throws.

    • BillW

      I was daydreaming of ’85 and wondering if we’ll ever see a team go back to a full time fullback; split backfield with a Suhey-type blocker/runner/ decent pass catcher in that role.

      • BillW

        Yes. I was in my rocking chair on the front porch yelling at the kids to get off my lawn at the time.

        • NewBearInTown

          Dunno though. Guards are getting more expensive, but can still be had for cheap. Running backs are getting much cheaper. And a fifth round pick will often get you the top fullback in a draft.
          When the personnel gets that cheap, a team can commit some picks and cash to getting literally the best 5 or 6 guys in the league at running it. As teams move toward faster, lighter linebackers to cover the new basketball player TEs, expect somebody to figure out that a true power run offense will be a great mismatch against the top Ds. Also creates great cover for a good but not elite QB. That’s basically what San Fran did, but I could see other teams going for it as well.

      • Peanut FTW

        Doubtful that you’d see it full time. Linebackers and even DEs are just so damn big and fast that misdirection and flexibility are pulling away from the pack. The pistol formation read option with a Harvin type or the silly H-back TE hybrid stuff don’t scream run or pass.

  • Peanut FTW

    I thought the difference of DLP at center was probably the least noticeable. I don’t see why the easiest change for the rest of the season isn’t DLP to center, Garza to LG. I think that is where he was when Kreutz was here anyway. Unless you really see Mills doing better there long term, then you go forward with that and leave Ola at RT.

    • the main thing they like about Garza is his ability to be the leader and scheme caller of the line. That means he’s their C.

      I thought they’d put DLP at LG though.

      • Peanut FTW

        I think DLP’s weakness is in pass protection, so putting him at LG having to deal with the LT on stunts may not be wise. I think that is why they are looking at other LG options.

      • AlbertInTucson

        And lord knows, this team needs SOMEBODY assciated with the term “Leader”.

  • Trac

    My grade for the oline is a D.

    • BerwynBomber

      That’s insane. Why? The first six weeks of the season they were fucking lights out. They had a bad stretch near the end of the first half against the Pats and had a hard time containing Wake (everyone does) when they played the Fish. When exactly have they played poorly? And don’t throw Carolina at me. The majority of pressure Cutler faced the entire game was the last two minutes when he was sacked twice and the Panthers had their ears pinned back.

      • Trac

        3-5!!!!!!! There’s no i in team.
        3-5=D
        4-4 =C
        5-3=B
        6-2=A
        7-1=A+
        8-0=A to the power of 3

        Capiche Pisano? Hahaha

        • MikeBrownhadaPosse

          You are being silly and purposefully missing the point of the exercise. Are we related?

  • BerwynBomber

    I don’t get this rating AT ALL. The line played pretty much lights out up through the Atlanta game. Hell, at the time I thought they were one of the best units in the entire league. They’re only blatant struggles I’ve seen were against Wake (who is the third best player we faced all year after Brady and Rodgers) and for one segment (near the end of the first half) of the Pats game.
    Hell, after Forte and Bennett, I would give the O-line the highest grade on the entire offense.

  • BerwynBomber

    So what am I missing here about the O-line criticism?
    Buffalo: solid pass protection
    SF: excellent pass protection
    NYJ: excellent pass protection (against a superior line and sundry disguised blitzes)
    GB: spotless fucking pass protection
    Carolina: solid pass protection (except for the last two minutes when we were in one dimensional mode)
    Atlanta: average to solid
    Miami: solid except for Wade
    Pats: a bad stretch near the end of the first half but otherwise Jay often could have caught a smoke back there
    Is it the rush blocking you guys object to? Because that seems solid to me too. I get that Mills is a bit weak, but the O-line as a whole? I can’t see anything but a high grade.

    • Donnnnn’t Caaaaarrrrrre!

      BB – the Carolina Panthers and MIami Dolphins fucking embarrassed our line. Every dropback there was intense pressure and constant collapsing of the pocket. Sorry, the other games were decent but Carolina and Miami were not good games for the OL.

      • Donnnnn’t Caaaaarrrrrre!

        I will even go one step further. I will settle in on Thursday with a nice Tradewind/Coke and will rewatch both games using the ESPN app. I will be prepped to discuss by Saturday.

        • BerwynBomber

          Yeah, NO at Carolina, I believe. Might be decent if for not other reason of 3-4 record dogfight that is the NFC South.

          • DaBearsBlog

            Bears essentially abandoned game plan against Miami and unloaded a string of boring flat routes because they had no answer for Miami’s pressure.

      • Donnnnn’t Caaaaarrrrrre!

        remember, it’s not just pressure and giving up sacks, it’s killing drives with penalties…..

        • BerwynBomber

          Ok, fair enough. That one might agree with/be legit. I just think the line looked outstanding for six weeks. Now hey, with Slauson going down and Mills continuing to look sketchy, maybe they crumble the rest of the way, but I would give them a high grade at the halfway mark.

      • BerwynBomber

        Really? I caught the Cheese a week earlier at Miami and Rodgers was running for his fucking life 3/4 of the game. I didn’t see Jay under that duress against the Fish. Not saying he wasn’t pressured but nothing like constant like that. And Wake is hard for any team to handle. And again, Carolina didn’t mount a sustained pass rush until the end of the game. I guess I am watching different football than the majority. Smh.

        • Donnnnn’t Caaaaarrrrrre!

          don’t shake your head, just give me a day or two to rewatch and analyze. I remember what I remember but I’m not Stephen Hawking.

  • BerwynBomber
  • wreckinball

    OL B- run blocking could be better

    DLP out played Garza

  • Trac

    The Bears Oline was looking good early October but I gotta believe we’ve dropped a peg or two since then.

    https://www.profootballfocus.com/blog/2014/10/08/offensive-line-rankings-2/4/

  • TheBigCheesy

    Jeff would you really not trade Cutler for the number 1 overall pick? Even when you consider that you offload his contract? That’s kind of insane.

    • wreckinball

      No one is going to offer that. But yes if offered you’d be nuts not to take it.

      Unfortunately no Josh as backup this year

      • SC Dave

        All of this…

    • NewBearInTown

      If you think there’s a franchise QB in the draft, I agree. If you think this is like 2013 or 2014, then its not worth it.

      • BerwynBomber

        So the second coming of Urlacher is sitting there at #1 and you wouldn’t trade Cutler for him? You are out of your mind.

        • NewBearInTown

          You mean Luke Kuechley? No, I would not.
          You need a quarterback to win in this league. Too many teams have proven that over and over again.

          • BerwynBomber

            Dude, likely Cutler is gone in two years. So you would rather bank on Cutler winning an SB in the next two years than having an anchor for your D the next decade? Again, that is insane. Moreover, I think there are PLENTY of teams have shown that an average QB can win a bowl and that is all Cutler himself is.

          • NewBearInTown

            Look at Miami. A few years back they pick Jake Long #1 overall. An anchor for that offensive line, a 10 year probowler in the making. He’s taken a step back lately, be played like it those first few seasons. Miami had one good year with him.

            Look at Houston. They just Clowney. Missed some time due to injury, but we saw what he can do. Does anyone think that the Texans are favorites because of Clowney and Watt?

            Meanwhile, look at the difference a QB made for Indy, for Seattle, for Denver, for Miami, for Cleveland. Cleveland!
            The league runs on the passing game. That’s just the reality.

            I’d love a new Lach, I’m thrilled that Fuller and Long are looking like future stars. But does anyone think we have a shot if Jimmy Clausen or Josh McCown starts?

          • Trac

            I agree with you NB. I think the Bears went all in with Cutty hoping he was the difference maker. For whatever reason, he has not been that. Sorry Yonny, it’s reality. Not saying the guy is chopped liver, please explain to me how he has proven he is before strafing me.

          • Bernsy

            No pick is guaranteed any success in this league, ask the Skins

    • BerwynBomber

      No “kind of” about it. It is flat fuck insane.

  • johnnywad

    So the Bears struggles over the first half of this season and all of last have been covered ad nauseum here lately. With that in mind, I still think its an unfair assessment to label the Bears as a poorly run franchise in general. I am admittedly cherry picking here a bit, but since the 06 season, 8 years, the Bears have been in 2 NFC Championship games and a SuperBowl. Only the Niners and Pats have been to more Conference Championship games than the Bears in that span. And Its fair to assume the Bears had a far better chance of winning the second had Cutler been able to finish the game in lieu of Caleb Fuckface Hanie. The Patriots are continually pointed to as a model franchise around here, as are the Packers. The Patriots were an also ran until the convergence of a First Ballot HOF QB and Belichik and haven’t won a Super Bowl in ten years. The Packers have started back to back HOF quarterbacks since, well, a long ass time ago. And look at what happened to the Packers when Rodgers went down (see what I did there?) last year.

    I guess my point is, the Bears are not hot garbage, they just aren’t historically great. We all got a little excited with a big boy offense last year and our expectations were a little out of line. I am now moving to the middle on the Trestman hire, but I still like what Emery is doing. I think they’re closer to a great team than a horrible team. This is not the Jaguars.

    • SC Dave

      In the past week or so, I’ve read a number of really fine posts you have authored. Way to go.

      While the Bears are not the franchise we all hope for based on history and demographics, they don’t exactly “suck” either. Imagine being a Lions fan. Or a (dare I say) a Cubs fan!

    • Huge Bear’s Penis

      agree and well said

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