Earlier this season I graded the Chicago Bears offensive line in their game against the Miami Dolphins. I've also graded the Bears' o-line at various times throughout the years and if you're interested, you can find those along with a plethora of interesting articles in our Xs & Os section.
To save a little time, I'll just blockquote myself to explain my grading style.
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.
The Dallas Cowboys had a lot of late movement along the defensive line. This is done to confuse the blocking schemes of the opposition. Dallas' d-line sets up, the Bears go through their calls, then Dallas slides over a gap or two. The Bears did a very good job trusting their keys and sticking with their assignments.
The Bears used two players at left guard so here's how I had the six Chicago offensive linemen from top to bottom.
Right Tackle Jordan Mills (+66, -2, 97%)
I talked a little about Mills yesterday in my Ten Thoughts article and after grading the o-line play, I think it's safe to call this Mills' best game of the season. Mills used his hands well, he showed some athleticism by pulling early in the game when the Bears dialed up a toss play to the right.
The first of Mills' negative plays was when he failed to cut down Henry Melton on a quick wide receiver pop pass. Mills dove too early and Melton was able to bat down the pass.
Left Tackle Jermon Bushrod (+65, -3, 96%)
I'm sure Bushrod was playing less than 100% for a few games this season, because he looked sluggish after coming back from his injury. He looked a little more fleet of foot this week, so hopefully his legs are getting right. He had a little trouble with a few spin moves against Dallas, but he was able to recover much better than in weeks past.
Right Guard Kyle Long (+63, -5, 93%)
Long's first negative was actually Garza's second negative. It came on the 8th play of the game and both Long and Garza allowed a Cowboy defender to split the gap between them. I'm not sure which Bear should have stuck with the defensive tackle, but I know the plan wasn't for both to let him go.
Long also had consecutive negative grades late in the game when he got caught lunging in his pass pro.
Center Roberto Garza (+63, -5, 93%)
I listed Long in front of Garza, because I thought Long had the better game. Both had the same grade, but Garza was allowing too much penetration throughout the evening. It didn't always affect the play, but I'd like to see him anchor better than he did.
Left Guard Michael Ola (+24, -3, 89%)
I don't think Ola was necessarily playing poorly before he was pulled, although he was yanked the series after his holding penalty. I did notice Ola playing a little too high on occasion, which prevented him from winning the leverage battle off the snap.
Left Guard Ryan Groy (+36, -5, 88%)
When I talked with the SB Nation site that covers the Wisconsin Badgers this off season about Groy, they had nice things to say about the undrafted offensive lineman. I saw some of his promise this preseason, but I never expected him to get any regular season playing time.
Groy had a rough start to his NFL career, getting 3 minuses on his first 7 plays. He struggled to stay on his feet in his pass protection, but on one whiff in particular, he hustled back to find a Cowboy to block, giving Jay Cutler the split second he needed to throw the ball.
On the two point conversion he missed a kick out block, but hustled to get in on the play to help push Matt Forte into the end zone.
The Chicago Bears will need their offensive line to build some good momentum these last three games. Getting some confidence and unity will be key going into the off season. What were your thoughts on these guys this week?