Statistics only tell some of the story. Grading services do a great job, but even those numbers need to be taken in context to gain the full understanding from play to play. Leadership is impossible to measure and it's hard to determine how solid the depth is behind a player until that player goes down for a length of time.
When I sit down each off season to formulate my list of the 10 Most Important Chicago Bears, I'm taking a lot into account, but what it really boils down to is a hunch. It's all very subjective and there really are no right or wrong answers. It's all done to generate some intelligent discussion here on Windy City Gridiron.
I truly believe that football starts in the trenches, but I've never had an offensive or defensive lineman at #1 in my list.
Some refuse to look at the coaches when thinking about importance, but I've had some coaches make an appearance on my lists through the years.
Football is the ultimate team sport and having one superstar player propel your team to a championship is never going to happen. An elite athlete can get your team over the hump, but it takes each player on the football field doing their one eleventh to find team success.
The first guy on my list did his 1/11, but he still has room to grow.
The Bears didn't expect Jordan Mills to step in as a rookie and beat out J'Marcus Webb for the right tackle job, but he showed just enough in camp and preseason to give the coaches confidence.
He struggled at times, but he showed flashes that he could be the long term answer at right tackle. His first game against the Cincinnati Bengals was probably his best game of the year, even though he held onto the job for all 16 games.
He gave up a lot of hurries, although I feel it's not as high a number as many think. In my final Sackwatch tally, I had Mills responsible for 3.25 sacks. Even with the low number of sacks allowed, he has plenty of room to improve.
The Bears left pseudo-tight end Eben Britton in to help out on the right side quite a bit last year. Starting tight end Martellus Bennett and the running backs also chip helped for Mills some too. The Bears also schemed to help the rookie out at times, but that's all ok. The Bears knew what they had in their offensive line, and they game-planned accordingly.
Mills far exceeded my expectations for a rookie 5th round draft pick, and the o-line played some very solid football in 2013. The unit must to continue to grow in 2014.
If the offense wants to keep building off of last year, they'll need Mills to be on an island more often. The less the Bears need to help him the better. If Britton has his snaps cut, that will be a good indication on how the line is doing.
If Jordan Mills can take a big step from year one to year two, the offense will be able to be more efficient and it will open up even more of the playbook for head coach Marc Trestman.