Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the Chicago Bears offensive line seems to be on the verge of some major changes.
Jason Peters’ ankle injury in the first quarter of the Bears’ loss to the Packers on Sunday Night Football thrust Teven Jenkins into action at left tackle on short notice. And while Jenkins was a battler, it was looking rough for the rookie for most of the night. Not that we should have been surprised. Remember, Jenkins was limited to just two special teams snaps in his Week 13 debut against the Cardinals. Prior to that, he hadn’t played in a football game of consequence since November 2020.
So, when Jenkins stepped into the left tackle spot last night, it was his first time playing along the offensive line in a game in more than a calendar year. In other words, it sure feels like throwing a rookie into the fire against a relentless Packers pass-rush despite minimal game reps dating back more than a year is a mighty tall ask. And, perhaps with that in mind, Bears Head Coach Matt Nagy is open to switching this up at tackle:
Matt Nagy was asked whether there would be discussions this week about moving Teven Jenkins away from the left tackle spot, perhaps sending Larry Borom over there.
"All of that is on the table."
— Dan Wiederer (@danwiederer) December 13, 2021
Evidently, the Bears like Larry Borom enough to have trotted him out at left tackle earlier this year. Why not be willing to try him out at the spot again?
Keep in mind that Borom has spent time at both right tackle (in place of Germain Ifedi) and on the left side (briefly filling in for Peters before suffering an injury of his own in Week 1) during the regular season. Additionally, Borom took snaps at left tackle throughout training camp and during the preseason. So it’s not as if this would be a foreign concept to the rookie from Missouri. And for what it’s worth, Jenkins was a right tackle by trade in his last year at Oklahoma State. Also worth noting is the Bears giving Jenkins practice reps at left *AND* right tackle during his 21-day practice window building up to his Week 13 activation. Maybe this could work out on a short-term basis, while also laying the groundwork for a long-term solution at tackle.
Even still … the Bears will face the same problems in Week 15 that they did a week prior. Rolling with two rookie offensive tackles doesn’t seem ideal. However, it is likely the team’s best option moving forward, especially if Peters isn’t healthy. Bookend rookies at tackle doesn’t seem ideal. And we saw why last night with penalties and losses in one-on-one battles that led to Green Bay splash plays. Nevertheless, playing both rookies has its perks. There is no substitute for on-the-job experience. Getting these young guys reps is important for their development and growth, as well as for future evaluation.
After all, the time to experiment with an eye on development is (and has been!) here. Owning just a 0.3 percent chance of making the postseason means it is time to shift focus. And it’s time for the powers that be at Halas Hall to recognize it and act on it.