The Chicago Bears 2009 season did not turn out the way I, or lots of people, thought it would. One major reason why is because of the performance of the offensive line. There were three new starters on the offensive line, which was done to bolster an under-performing 2008 line. Orlando Pace was brought in to be Left Tackle, Chris Williams became the starter at Right Tackle, and Frank Omiyale was signed & given the starting Left Guard spot. Roberto Garza remained at Right Guard, and Olin Kreutz was the Center. How did they all do?
First let's go over the numbers:
The Bears were 29th in the NFL in Rushing Yards with 1,492 yards; 93.2 yds/game.
The Bears gave up 35 sacks (19th) and 78 QB hits (17th).
According to Football Outsiders, the Bears offensive line was 19th in Adjusted Line Yards (4.02).
Adjusted Line Yards formula takes all running back carries and
assigns responsibility to the offensive line based on the following percentages:
- Losses: 120% value
- 0-4 Yards: 100% value
- 5-10 Yards: 50% value
- 11+ Yards: 0% valueThese numbers are then adjusted based on down, distance, situation,
opponent, and the difference in rushing average between shotgun
compared to standard formations. Finally, we normalize the numbers so
that the league average for Adjusted Line Yards per carry is the same
as the league average for RB yards per carry.
Their Power Rank was 25th with a Power Success of 58%. The Bears were successful on only 58% of their running plays on 3rd or 4th down, with 2 yards or less to go for a 1st down or TD. That's the offensive line not getting a good push. Cincinnati was first with a Power Success rate of 79%. Previous Bears' o-lines in 2006, 2007, and 2008 had Power Success rates of 71% (7th in NFL), 75% (3rd), and 63% (20th). [note: O-line? or Forte?]
According to FO, the Bears were actually an average pass blocking team. Their 35 sacks, yielded a sack rate of 5.9%, which was good for 13th in the NFL. The NFL leader was Indy with just 13 sacks allowed and a sack rate of 3.1%. The Bears' 2006-2008 sack rates were: 4.8% (6th), 7.1% (18th), & 5.3% (11th).
According to ProFootballFocus.com's rating system. The Bears' were 26th in pass blocking with a rating of -24.3. The Bears' run blocking was slightly better with a ranking of 20th, and a rating of -10.6.
Individually, Kreutz (+5.8) and Garza (+5.5) graded out well, and Williams (-18.6), Pace (-26.3), and Omiyale (-6.9) were pretty bad. LINK In fact, in the entire NFL; Orlando Pace graded out as the 72nd tackle, Williams 65th, and Omiyale the 62nd guard. (Garza was 18th among G's, Kreutz 16th among C's) If we look deeper into Williams' ratings though we see a huge improvement starting in Week 11. He earned positive ratings in 6 of his last 7 games. Frank Omiyale also saw a huge improvement from a horrible start to the season. He had positive ratings in 5 of the last 6 games including very good run blocking numbers.
In my Roster Prediction post a couple of weeks ago, I speculated that maybe Kreutz and Garza were not 100% certain to be on the roster next summer. I'm moving Kreutz to 100% and Garza to 75%. They are solid and dependable. Chris Williams will no doubt be the starting left tackle next year. He improved over the season, and cemented his position with an excellent performance against Jared Allen in week 16. As much as we like to poke fun at Omiyale, he also improved a lot as the season wore on.
That leaves just right tackle. Kevin Shaffer was an adequate backup and swing tackle. I don't know if he's the goods though. The Bears could move Omiyale back to tackle and have him compete for the right tackle position with Shaffer. This obviously leaves a gaping hole at left guard to be filled in with a draft pick or a free agent. Conversely, the Bears could leave Omiyale at left guard and bring in a free agent right tackle to either compete or be given the right tackle position. I suspect the Bears will try and acquire whatever guard or tackle they can, and then put Omiyale at the other.