From time to time I like to grade the offensive line play from the Chicago Bears. Since it's been so long between real between the lines football, I was excited to get into the game-film from last weeks contest against the Miami Dolphins. Before I get into my grades, I'll give a few impressions of the starters play.
The starting o-line only played the first two series' and I didn't think the 1st team looked all that bad. Sure the opening 3 and out was a let down, but they came back with a 12 play 66 yard drive that resulted in three points from Robbie Gould.
Would a touchdown have been better? Sure, but remember we're talking about practice.
Jay Cutler was 4 of 7 for 42 yards (74.7 passer rating) during his time with the ones and the running game went for 37 yards on 8 carries (4.6 ypc) behind the starting offensive line.
The Bears had good rhythm on their scoring drive and they took advantage of a 2nd chance when the refs called offsetting penalties on a 3rd and 6. Including the offsetting penalty, the Bears had 4 flags thrown on them during the first two drives. They were a bit sloppy, but that's correctable.
Speaking of sloppy, even though my grades weren't bad for Chicago's starting five, there was some sloppy play among the group. I've talked about the trenches being like a fight before. It may not always look pretty, but if a player gets his job done, I'll usually go with a plus. And fyi, I grade on a simple plus/minus system. You do your job, you get a plus, you don't and it's a minus for you.
A good example of this is a play when starting left guard Matt Slauson worked up to the 2nd level, somehow got turned around, and managed to wall off the defender like a power forward boxing out for a rebound. He did just enough to get in the way of the flowing linebacker so I gave him a plus.
Here's how I handed out my grades from right to left. Jordan Mills (+15/-2), Kyle Long (+15/-1), Will Montgomery (+14/-3), Matt Slauson (+15/-1) and Jermon Bushrod (+15/-1).
I graded the plays with the penalties even though there was no official play according to the NFL. If a plays runs to its conclusion, a coach will grade the play and so will I.
I though both Mills and Slauson lucked up on a few plays. Had the defenders they were blocking played better on a few instances, they easily could have had a few more minuses given to them.
The first negative play for Jordan Mills came when he jumped offsides on the very first snap for the Bears. That simply can not happen. Mills' 2nd minus was on the sack that was negated because of offsetting penalties. Mills did a good job moving his feet, but he allowed to be too much space between he and the defender. Mills is a much better blocker when he can get his hands on a defender. A penalty and a sack allowed makes his day look bad, but overall he was OK.
The Chicago side of the offsetting penalties was a hold on Bushrod. I disagreed with the call, so I actually gave him a plus. Bushrod didn't exactly hold, what he did was more of a grab. He locked onto the pass rusher and steered him to the grass. I'm guessing that's exactly how he was taught.
I wanted to spotlight the lone negative mark for Kyle Long. Check out the pic below. The Bears want to run to the right side and there are four Miami defenders at the point of attack.
From right to left, the Bears have 4 blockers that could account for the four Dolphins. Tight end Martellus Bennett, right tackle Mills, right guard Long and the center Montgomery. There's a Dolphin shading Montgomery's left shoulder and that's who he takes.
Bennett takes the widest defender to his right and Mills and Long begin with a double team on the defensive lineman in their B gap. The problem arises when the Dolphins blitz the play-side linebacker, who is highlighted yellow in the picture below.
Long was either completely unaware of the 2nd level threat or he was simply late in coming off the double team and working up to the 2nd level.
There's also a possibility that it was Montgomery's job to step play side and come up to the linebacker, leaving the man in the left-side A gap for Slauson after a brief double team.
The linebacker stuffed the play for a loss, but this is an example of the line working into some cohesion. It is week one preseason after-all and the center is a new face. I doubt this mistake happens later in the season.
I do think the Bears need to continue to explore options for right tackle. Jordan Mills can be serviceable, but his game has some room for improvement.