The Los Angeles Rams have won the Super Bowl, which means the NFL’s 2021 season is officially in the books. Now, we can return to obsessing over how the Chicago Bears can build a Super Bowl-caliber roster of their own.
Football fans young and old know the NFL is a copycat league, and often deride that approach. But frankly, that’s an oversimplification. The best-run teams can look at the best performing teams and use them as inspirate. And when it comes to the Bears and that Super Bowl finale, one lesson should’ve come through loud and clear: Build. That. Line.
The statistical evidence from last night’s game is all new GM Ryan Poles needs to see:
Bengals finished with a 14% pass block win rate, the worst by any team in any game this season.
(ESPN / NFL Next Gen Stats)
— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) February 14, 2022
I suppose the alternative way of viewing that stat is that Rams defenders had an 86 percent pass-rush run rate. And to that end, yeah, the Bears need to keep-on-keeping-on when it comes to crafting a championship-caliber defense. But for the love of Sweetness, BUILD THE DANG OFFENSIVE LINE.
Seriously, that single statistic encapsulates everything you need to know about what the Bears should be doing this offseason. If finding a quarterback is the obvious top priority, then unearthing the right offensive linemen is the second-most important thing a franchise can do. In other words, if this team truly believes in Justin Fields as the future, then the front office needs to realize that building the offensive line is *THE* thing it must do in the offseason ahead.
You can’t come away from watching that game and come away thinking about anything other than shoring up the offensive line. Yes, getting Fields weapons he can throw to is high on the to-d0 list. The Bengals wouldn’t have made the Super Bowl had it not chosen Ja’Marr Chase to team with Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd as pass-catchers for Joe Burrow. And the Rams wouldn’t be Super Bowl champions if not for Cooper Kupp, Odell Beckham Jr., and that collection of skill position players. But at the end of the day, that game was won in the trenches. Los Angeles was triumphant because its offensive line was better when it matters most than Cincinnati’s was in those same moments. Rams blockers held up for long enough, while Bengals blockers didn’t. It’s as simple as that once you sort through the madness.
Joe Burrow was sacked a league-leading 51 times in 2021. And there were 19 more sacks in the postseason. That’s a lot of hits. And while Burrow gutted out a severe whacking, today could’ve been different if he had more time to throw.
To be clear, this isn’t a memo to ignore opportunities to add skill position players. Far from it. However, the Bears’ most long-standing needs along the line remain. If you’ve been rocking with us long enough, then you know we’ve been banging this drum for a while. Chicago’s football team needs offensive line help. It should go out and get it ASAP. This new-look front office is led by a GM and top lieutenant who were college offensive linemen. Both should understand what’s at stake if they fumble the bag when it comes to protecting Fields. No excuses. Get it done. Build that line.