One thing I’m learning about the NFL is that once I start getting comfortable, something unexpected is about to happen.
With the NFL’s trade deadline passing, I should’ve known better than to expect things to return to the status quo. And yet, here I am a bit surprised by the latest news from Bears camp from sideline reporter Mark Grote, who hears that Riley Reiff — and not Larry Borom — is starting at right tackle in today’s game against the Dolphins:
Hmmm. I was hoping we’d see Borom continue to play so we can further evaluate him as a possible long-term solution. Remember, Borom still has two more years on his rookie deal after this one. And if the Bears can squeeze out some starters on rookie-scale deals on the offensive line, it could allow them to spend lavishly elsewhere in free agency. But that is a discussion for another time and place.
Should I be surprised? No. Head Coach Matt Eberfus, Offensive Coordinator Luke Getsy, and Offensive Line Coach Chris Morgan have all been adamant about playing the Bears’ best five linemen. It has been the company line since they began piecing this thing together. And the decision to start Reiff essentially expresses the Bears brass’ belief in him as one of their best five. But am I surprised? Yes, a little.
Borom, a fifth-round pick in 2021, was the starting right tackle for each of Chicago’s first seven games this season. But Borom’s trip to concussion protocol caused him to miss last week’s game against the Cowboys. His return to a full participant at practice on Friday led me to believe Borom would resume being the Bears’ starting right tackle. I should’ve known better to make that assumption.
Pro Football Focus grades Borom as the NFL’s 40th-highest-graded tackle among 78 qualifiers for the leaderboard. That puts him firmly in the middle of the pack, which is to say it’s not as if his play was demanding he move out of the starting lineup. However, that appears to be what is happening. Is this a lineup shakeup? Are coaches sending a message? Are we missing something that we should otherwise be considering with this move? There are so many questions I’d like answers to when it comes to this decision. But at least Reiff has a lengthy record as a starter, which is keeping me from worrying about a potential downgrade at the position.