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Grading the 5 Chicago Bears offensive linemen vs the Miami Dolphins

I went back and rewatched the game pitting the Chicago Bears against the Miami Dolphins. My focus was on the play of Chicago's starting offensive line and here are my individual grades from their performance.

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I've graded the Chicago Bears offensive line play here on Windy City Gridiron in the past and if you're unfamiliar with how I do what I do, here's a quick recap.

I grade on a simple plus/minus system. There is no baseline, there are no bonus points for really doing your job or double negatives for failing miserably, because frankly coaches only care about one thing. Results.

You do your job you get a (+), you don't and it's a (-) for you. This is the same system I was taught by my youth coach, the same one I used in high school, the same one was graded on in college and it's how I graded when I coached. Bears offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer has even been quoted in talking about a plus/minus system that he uses to grade his line.

There are certainly other ways to grade o-line play, but in my opinion there are too many variables in the trenches to try and over complicate things.

Now keep in mind I'm not in the position room with the Bears coaches and I don't know their specific assignments, but I do my best in trying to figure out exactly what each player's job is.

Here's how I had each player with a few notes on their overall play.

Center Roberto Garza (+48, -3, 94%)
I thought Garza played with good strength and technique all game. His first minus occurred on the 2nd series of the game and he was simply bullrushed too far into the backfield. He did a good job in staying in front of his man, but ultimately he was pushed far enough back to disrupt his quarterback.

When watching the game in detail, I can see why the Bears were quick to go back to Garza once he was healthy. Brian de la Puente is as technically sound as Garza, but he doesn't have the same strength and he's more easily turned.

Right Guard Kyle Long (+46, -5, 90%)
Kyle Long is a perfect example of a guy that may not always look pretty on the football field, but he's certainly effective. He's still working through some technique issues, but he's just so strong and plays with a high motor, that he's able to overcome some of his technical shortcomings.

I had his first negative grade on the Bears' 5th series of the day. Long was too slow in reacting to a double team with Garza, and his guy made the play.

Left Tackle Jermon Bushrod (+44, -7, 86%)
Bushrod had a few really bad plays, some of which we'll get into on Sackwatch, but overall he did an OK job manning Jay Cutler's blindside. His first negative play was on the 2nd series, and much like Garza's, Bushrod was bullrushed back into Cutler's lap. Giving up ground to a defender isn't always bad, because if you anchor too aggressively, a good pass rusher will use your own momentum against you.

This happened to right tackle Jordan Mills a few times while he was battling Miami defensive end Cameron Wake. The problem with the first Bushrod minus was he allowed the bullrush to take him into the pocket he was trying to create for hie QB.

Left Guard Matt Slauson (+43, -8, 84%)
Slauson is a bruiser. You can tell he's more comfortable run blocking when he's head up on a man, because most of his problems in the running game are when he has to chase. Also when he sets up to pass protect, he often gets too far out in front of his feet and loses balance.

His first negative play was on the same play as Garza's. While Garza was pushed back too far, Slauson was flat footed then got caught lunging at his man. I've noticed Slauson getting at bit too lunge-happy on occasion.

Right Tackle Jordan Mills (+40, -12, 77%)
The keen mathematical eye may notice one more play for Mills. That's because he had a presnap penalty called against him, so his was the only grade given on that play. Mills is best when he can get his hands on a defender. Not only as a run blocker, but as a pass blocker. Yes he gave up his fair share of pressures to Wake, but when he got his hands on his guy, he usually stymied him.

Mills had a rough start to he game, getting a minus on play 4, 6 and 8. His first negative came when he was unaware of a blitzer off the edge. Mills blocked inside to help his right guard Long, but that defender was positioned so that Long didn't need help. If anything Mills should have checked inside before spying the edge rusher.

I could see the Bears wanting to get Michael Ola some reps in practice at right tackle, but keep in mind that Ola was much better at guard this year than he was at tackle. I don't believe the Bears will pull Mills unless he really craps the bed.

For what it's worth Pro Football Focus also had Mills with the low grade among the Bears' linemen and they had Kyle Long with the high.

Adam Hoge from 87.7 The Game in Chicago, has his own grading system he uses each week for Bears' games. He also had Long at the top of the line and Mills at the bottom for Dolphins week.

The below freeze frame is from the goal line TD to Matt Forte and it's an example of everyone doing their job, but not getting a bulldozing type block. The play was a run over right guard and all Garza, Long and Mills (highlighted) did was lock onto their guy and turn them so Forte had a hole to hit.

Garza got no push, but he turned his man away from the hole. Long popped Garza's guy momentarily before working on to the linebacker and keeping his body between he and Forte. And Mills made sure he turned his man to the outside. On the right side, Slauson and Bushrod cut off their men from any pursuit.

No devastating blocks, but everyone did their job, so pluses across the board.