In this ongoing series I'll be taking a position by position look at the potential 2011 Chicago Bears roster. Every season each team will need to deal with some roster turnover due to injuries, age, and contract status. In some cases teams need a serious influx of talent at a position. The Bears offensive line is one such position. I looked at tackle earlier yesterday, and next up is offensive guard.
Pro Football Focus had Garza way down as their 73rd rated guard. For perspective, Bears fans dream signing Logan Mankins was at #4. Garza had two really bad games according to PFF that drug his overall grade down. His overall -14.6 took a hit with a -5.4 in week 3 against the Packers, and another -5.4 in week 9 against the Bills. His second shot at Green Bay resulted in his best game +3.0, and he graded out favorably in both playoff games too
Chris Williams - signed through 2012 - I think a return to tackle may be in Williams future. His shift to left guard was more due to the Bears not wanting to have the line undergo multiple position shifts during the season than anything else. The line was stabilized the second half of the season, but I'm not sure how content the Bears are with Williams staying at G.
PFF had him rated higher than Garza at 69. Overall he had 11 starts at LG and 2 at LT, he gave up 4 QB pressures, 2 QB hits, and 1 sack in that week 1 start. What happened to the Chris Williams that finished up the '09 season with 7 straight good games according to PFF?
Lance Louis - signed through 2012 - Louis caught the eye of Bears o-line coach Mike Tice early and started the first 4 games on the year. PFF had him with a negative grade in 3 of those games, which might be a reason he was benched. In his defense, guard is still a relatively new position for the converted TE, and he should be in the mix for a guard sport next year.
Johan Asiata - signed a reserve/future contract - Tice loved this kids attitude in camp, but he couldn't get it done physically. He needs a good camp to stcik around in a reserve role next year.
2011 OUTLOOK - Free agent Mankins will be a top priority for a more than a few teams. It looks like he won't be returning to New England and will go play for the highest bidder. Will the Bears pay a guard left tackle money to improve their line? I think they should do what ever it takes to improve the guys that are protecting the franchise player. Carl Nicks from New Orleans may be a better option than Mankins. PFF had him rated the top guard in the league last year.
The Bears should target an interior lineman in the draft, preferably a guy that can play center as well as guard. I'd be surprised if there isn't some competition at guard next season for the Bears.