A large part of the offseason's shake up along the offensive line involved the interior positions, all at guard. Last year the Bears used Lance Louis and a combination of Gabe Carimi, Chilo Rachal, Chris Spencer and Edwin Williams.
In case you have been living under a rock, there has been some upheaval at the guard positions. Louis, Spencer, Carimi and Rachal have all departed.
Incoming have been first round draft pick Kyle Long and free agents Eben Britton and Matt Slauson.
Should we be more confident in the tackles?
Starting left guard: Matt Slauson (4th NFL season)
Job Responsibilities: Protect the quarterback on his blindside and set the pocket. In the run game open up inside running lanes and pull and get downfield to set blocks.
Job So Far: Slauson has yet to perform in the Bears uniform but Profootballfocus.com has graded him out positively in all three years as a starter. He graded out negatively in the run game but should not be a downgrade from Lance Louis last season.
Confidence Level: High. He may not be a Pro-Bowler but he is a solid starter that is at worst a side step from the departed Louis. Either way the left side of the line is looking solid with him and Bushrod.
Starting center: Roberto Garza (13th season)
Job Responsibilities: Protect the quarterback and set blocks in the run game. In addition, call out blocking assignments and be the leader of the offensive line. He also has to snap the ball the consistently.
Job So Far: He's been solid but not a perennial All-Pro at the position and he's not getting any younger. Fans had been hoping to see a replacement drafted but that didn't happen.
Confidence Level: Low. He isn't bad but he doesn't exactly instill a whole lot of confidence at the position either. His shotgun snaps haven't always been sharp and the Bears could be using more shotgun under Marc Trestman.
Starting right guard: Kyle Long (Rookie)
Job Responsibilities: Protect Cutler on the other side, use his athleticism in the run game when pulling and help set a clean pocket for Cutler.
Job So Far: Well he's a rookie, not to mention I can't even tell you how he's looked in the offseason stuff because he hasn't participated and even if he had, he can't make contact because it's only June. Basically all I can say is he better win the starting job.
Confidence Level: Low. The bar was set low last year by the revolving door at RG but that doesn't mean that a rookie with only a handful of starts at the D-I FBS college level starts is ready to step in and be an anchor.
Back up guards and centers: James Brown, Edwin Williams, Eben Britton, P.J. Longergan, Taylor Boggs
Job Responsibilities: Provide back up and depth for any of the above players, step in at a moments notice and be prepared to play on either side of the line.
Job So Far: Edwin WIlliams has made 14 unspectacular starts in his career, Britton has 30 starts while Longergan and Boggs have zero. Brown made some starts last year but was very raw. He's worked with the first team at RG while Long has been out because of the NFL rules about final exams. Expect to see Brown back with the twos come July. The group isn't a heck of a lot different talent-wise than last year's group.
Confidence Level: Zero. I mean, did you read that last sentence? This group probably has the same amount of talent as last year but with fewer starts (Rachal and Spencer have a combined career 135 starts). P.J. Longergan is an early candidate to win the memorial Mike Hass Training Camp Award but it's unlikely he will make an impact on the field this year when it counts.
Overall confidence level: Low
The group may have been completely overhauled, however, that doesn't mean that the product will be inherently better. Until I see performance and development on the field and how the players work under Aaron Kromer, I can't have a level of confidence above low.
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