The early returns are in!
And after one (1) game, the reports agree! The Bears’ offensive line changes were for the better:
One game is the smallest of samples from which we can pull. And the injury to center Lucas Patrick complicates our evaluation. But there are some real things worth taking away from how the new-look offensive line played against the Patriots on Monday Night Football.
Teven Jenkins is Becoming a Stud Guard
We’re just seven games into the season, and Teven Jenkins has been playing guard for just three months, but the second-year player is already one of the best in the business. Jenkins owns Pro Football Focus’ eighth best grade among guards. And while his pass protection still needs work, the 80.1 run-blocking grade is the fifth best among his peers. When you’re in a top-10 featuring players like Joel Bitonio and Quinn Meinerz, then yuou’re doing something right.
Jenkins has been doing plenty right at the guard position. And last night was no exception – his 88.3 grade from PFF was the best among Bears offensive players last night. Plays like this one below that we see with our eyes that justify the PFF letter grade:
Jenkins is always looking for work. And his commitment to being on the prowl and hunting for someone to plow reminds me of why we fell in love with his draft profile in the first place.
Braxton Jones Continues to Flash
Shout out to PFF’s Brad Spielberger for pointing out that Braxton Jones’ 71.5 season grade is the best among rookie left tackles. That stat, in isolation, is absurd. We’re not used to seeing Bears offensive tackles hold their own around these parts. And we’re definitely not accustomed to rookies holding down the fort. A Day 3 pick doing it has us intrigued about the future.
To be clear, Jones still has much work to do as a pass-blocker. Jones’ 59.1 pass-blocking grade is the 19th worst among the 77 qualifiers for PFF’s leaderboard. But that 71.5 overall grade (tied for 21st best among all tackles) being elevated by a 77.0 run-blocking grade (10th best among OTs) should be enough to let the Bears continue their trial by fire for the rookie.
As if that wasn’t enough, Jones’ mindset definitely should be taken as a sign that he should be allowed to continue rocking as the Bears’ starting left tackle for the time being:
Michael Schofield’s First Start Was a Dandy
Schofield didn’t have a bunch of splashy plays. But he didn’t have a bunch of plays that would’ve had me running to check out the free agent wire to see which interior offensive linemen were available. That is certainly refreshing. After all, that’s why they signed him in the first place. To be a veteran presence who can stabilize the line, not commit penalties, and build a bridge until the Bears can find a long-term fit for the position.
Or, in this very specific case, be a place-holder for an injured Cody Whitehair who currently sits as PFF’s 9th highest-graded guard despite missing the last three games due to injury.
Even Sam Mustipher Graded Well
We’ll get this out of the way while we can and discuss the play that looked like an EA Sports/Madden glitch:
And yet, Sam Mustipher’s 83.8 overall grade on Monday Night Football was the second best among Bears offensive players.
I still don’t like what I’ve seen from Mustipher from a big-picture standpoint. But kudos to a player who was sent to the bench, only to get the call to fill in after just 10 snaps because of Lucas Patrick’s injury. Yours truly loves a good comeback story. And I wouldn’t mind if Mustipher bounced back in a big way — especially if push comes to shove and the Bears *NEED* him to play center.