Wut? The Chicago Bears Apparently Have a Top-10 Offensive Line

Justin Fields Falcons
Justin Fields Falcons

Let’s get some obvious caveats out of the way before we do some digging. First, let it be known that this is just one outlet’s evaluation of the Bears O-line. Second, this vibes with how grades have been rolling out this year. And third, here’s your reminder that this is just one evaluation based on the metrics and grading done by one group of analytics giants. But I mean, damn … it’s a sunny projection! And one I didn’t see coming.

Pro Football Focus grades the Bears offensive line as a top-10 unit heading into Week 15.

No, really.

There is a link to a story that says it and everything.

Can you believe it?

A spot in the top 10 makes for quite the in-season development for these Bears. Remember, PFF had them 31st among the NFL’s 32 teams. And PFF’s season-ending rankings last year put the Bears’ offensive line at 22nd. However you want to slice it, Chicago cracking the top 10 is a fascinating glow-up. Moreover, it is one that maybe we should’ve seen coming. This offensive line garnered some early-season rave reviews. Some metrics had offensive tackles Larry Borom and Braxton Jones going strong into October. Recently, we’ve also seen Jones play his way into a larger discussion about his future. And we’ve seen Teven Jenkins play his way into a possible Pro Bowl berth. It all adds up to the Bears not having one of the absolute worst lines ever. That’s progress considering where this team was at this time last year. Or even earlier this season.

It’s just that I’m not sure my eyes agree with the sentiment.

There is no doubt Chicago’s offensive line can run block with the best of them. As a unit, the Bears’ line ranks as the seventh-best run-blocking group. Teven Jenkins’ 81.5 run-blocking grade ranks third among guards and anchors the line. But Michael Schofield (19th of 87 guards), Braxton Jones (8th of 79 tackles), Larry Borom (36th of 79 tackles), and Sam Mustipher (12th of 38 centers) also grade out well among the leaderboard’s qualifiers. But the pass-blocking leaves much to be desired. Mustipher and Lucas Patrick have pass-blocking grades that rank among the worst five at their respective positions. Meanwhile, Jones has a sub-70 pass-blocking grade as a left tackle. That’s sub-optimal when you consider that you’d want more from Justin Fields’ blindside.

In the end, I’m not wholly sure what to do with this data. Because, on the one hand, I can see where the Bears are such butt-kickers in the run-blocking game (and it’s something this offense has leaned into this season) that you have to grade them in a positive light. You can’t deny what they’ve put on tape in that regard. But that the Bears (1) have a limited number of pass-blocking reps and (2) have struggled in that area gives me pause regarding the overall grade. Clearly, this group has exceeded preseason expectations. But it’s not as if the Bears can’t get better in this area. These next four weeks could help us clear some of the noise. And while it won’t make or break anyone’s evaluation, every piece of evidence that we can get to better inform ourselves regarding line play is welcome.

written by

Luis C. Medina, who you can find on Twitter at lcm1986, has been covering the Chicago Bears at Bleacher Nation since 2017. Since then, he has written about 3 head coaches, 5 play-callers, and 11 starting quarterbacks. Previously, Luis wrote about the Cubs and MLB at BN (2015-16) and worked in the Chicago Tribune sports department (2011-16). He also co-hosted a Cubs postgame show, Outside the Ivy, in 2019.

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