Bears Left Guard Platoon Will Continue Until James Daniels is Ready for Full-Time Duty

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Bears Left Guard Platoon Will Continue Until James Daniels is Ready for Full-Time Duty

Chicago Bears

The changing of the (left) guard isn’t here yet, but it’s coming.

Chicago Bears Head Coach Matt Nagy addressed the left guard rotation in his Wednesday meeting with the assembled media at Halas Hall, if only slightly:

Rookie James Daniels has seen a 110 game reps over the last three games as he has entered a time share at left guard with starter Eric Kush. So while this platoon could be to the long-term benefit of the Bears offensive line, while also keeping the team’s win-now priorities in order, it can’t last forever, right?

If you’re a believer in trends, then the numbers suggest the platoon’s time is running out. Daniels has out-snapped Kush in each of the last two weeks and hasn’t been a detriment to the offense when he has been on the field. HOWEVER, it’s clear that he isn’t quite where he needs to be to given the keys as a full-time starter. But his time will come.

“James is getting some valuable experience. It’s great for him to have that,” Nagy said in his Wednesday press conference. “It’s even better for him to have a guy like Kush who’s there to support him when in a lot of situations it could go the other way.

It’s an unconventional way of going about player development, but it’s a plan that hasn’t led to any major blowups to this point. Kush has been steady in pass protection with a Pro Football Focus pass-blocking grade that ranks 21st among 73 qualifying guards, while Daniels has excelled as a run-blocker with a PFF grade that would check in as the 14th best at the position (if he played enough snaps to qualify). That’s great and all, but at some point, your second-round pick who was drafted to be a starter in the NFL should do just that. Patience is important, but come on, the signs are pointing to the undeniable value of making a move that could benefit the team for the present and future.

Before Sunday’s Bears game against the Patriots, PFF and ESPN teamed to put together an Insider piece on the league’s most underutilized players. Naturally, Daniels made the cut for the Bears. The University of Iowa product has graded out well and has passed the eye test to date. And with Kush battling injuries before each of the last two games, it probably seems like a matter of “when” and not “if” Daniels takes over on a full-time basis.

But as long as the time share continues to work, it’s going to be difficult for the Bears to move away from it. I’ve been thinking of the old adage “it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” when this platoon has crossed my mind. However, the trends are hard to ignore and Daniels’ arrow is pointing up. His time will come soon.

Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.