From time to time I like to put on my coaching hat, go through the tape, and grade the Chicago Bears offensive linemen. I use a simple plus/minus grading system because that’s what I was taught back in the day. None of this base line zero, plus or minus fractions of a point systems that we’ve seen from some places. In my world, you either do your job or you don’t. You want to grade on style points, go judge figure skating.
Offensive line play isn’t always pretty. A guy can fire out with picture perfect technique, have the proper hand placement, have his feet in the correct position, but still get his ass kicked by the defender in front of him.
Then again, an offensive lineman could slip while getting out of his stance, get out-leveraged by the defender, struggle to move him off the line of scrimmage, but somehow manage to turn his body to create a crease for the running to run though.
I’ll reiterate what I say every time I do one of these grades posts, I’m probably not going to 100% accurate. The “grades” from Pro Football Focus and the other sabermetric type sites out there aren’t accurate either.
Do you want to know where you can get some top of the line, 100% accurate Chicago Bears o-line grades? My first guess would be Chicago o-line coach Dave Magazu. The other offensive coaches on the Bears will probably have the right grades too. I’d bet the players all know their grades as well.
I’ll give my take on the grades for each Chicago offensive lineman and a few general thoughts on each player. Before I get into my grades, I want to say what a beast Detroit’s Haloti Ngata still is. Even at 32 year old he gave the Bears’ interior fits wherever he lined up.
RT Bobby Massie +52/-14 (78.8%)
My first run through the film this year confirms what my eyes have told me, Massie is the weak link on the Bears o-line. He’s a much better run blocker than he is a pass blocker, but when his technique is sloppy he plays a little high and he doesn’t have the leverage to out-muscle his man and get by on strength alone.
Massie has trouble with the speed rush, but when he keeps his back straight, and he uses his hands, he’s serviceable. The mathematicians in the crowd may notice I have one extra play graded for Massie, and that’s because of his presnap penalty. FYI, that is his only penalty so far on the season.
RG Kyle Long +58/-7 (89.2%)
Long was solid most of the game, but a few times he was bullrushed back just enough to bother his QB. His technique has really come around during his time in Chicago and he’s not just manhandling defenders anymore. Well, he is still manhandling defenders, he’s just not only getting by on his strength.
If you still have your Bears’ game on DVR or if you have Gamepass, check out the last play of the first quarter. On that play Long fails to pick up a 2nd level block and Massie fails to get a reach block on the inside zone play to the left.
Long also has just one penalty this year.
C Cody Whitehair +58/-7 (89.2%)
I’ve really been impressed with the growth from Whitehair. He’s starting to look like he can be their center for the next 10 years. He’s quick, his technique is starting to come around and when he’s not matched up against Ngata, he’s plenty strong. Whitehair was flagged for a hold late in the game, but I thought it was a really ticky-tack call. He actually leads the o-line with 3 penalties.
LT Charles Leno +60/-5 (92.3%)
The first play of the game I gave Leno a negative, so I assumed the worst, but he really had a solid day. That first play he gave up the rip move back to the inside, but luckily the ball came out quickly.
If you have the game handy, go to the Kevin White challenge play at 9:21 of the 2nd quarter. On the play Leno’s man stunts hard inside, in an effort to draw Leno in, then the Lions brought a blitzer in behind the d-lineman in hopes to have a clean edge to rush. Leno stayed square, kept his head up, passed his man inside to left guard Josh Sitton, and then picked up the blitzer.
On the long pass play to Eddie Royal the Lions try an E-T stunt against the Bears’ left side. Leno and Sitton easily pick it up showing they are starting to get comfortable playing together.
On the long pass to Royal, check out the time Hoyer has. Lions run a stunt on #Bears left side and Leno and Sitton play it perfectly. pic.twitter.com/mb3bxkH8pT— Lester A Wiltfong Jr (@wiltfongjr) October 3, 2016
The pass protection on the right side was pretty good as well.
Leno still isn’t the strongest at the point of attack, he’ll never be called a mauler, but he’s able to get the job done with good technique. The Bears are also comfortable pulling him out in front on toss plays to the left.
This play was negated by a hold, but check out LT Leno pull and lock on his guy and LG Sitton and RG Long blocking on the 2nd level. #Bears pic.twitter.com/mKFQAP83rb— Lester A Wiltfong Jr (@wiltfongjr) October 3, 2016
Since we’re going over o-line penalties through 4 games, Leno has been flagged twice.
Josh Sitton +63/-2 (96.9)
Definitely rewatch that last clip so you don’t miss Sitton and Long both working up to the 2nd level to get on linebackers. Sitton has been all that he’s been advertised and now that he’s getting used to playing between Whitehair and Leno, the stunts aren’t as bothersome.
Here’s a closer look at the long Hoyer to Royal pass play. Check out the head snap of awareness from Sitton as he readies himself for the end stunting to him.
Here's the replay of the #Bears pass protection on that big Hoyer to Royal pass play. LT Leno & LG Sitton exchange defenders when they stunt pic.twitter.com/oWQxHEwlzX— Lester A Wiltfong Jr (@wiltfongjr) October 3, 2016
Yeah there was a little Bear-Hug thrown in for good measure, but it’s only a penalty if the flag is thrown. And speaking of flags, Sitton has been caught once this year.
The Indianapolis Colts are another bottom of the barrel defense, so Chicago’s o-line has a very good chance to set the tone on Sunday.
Do you guys think the Bears offensive linemen are starting to gel, or do you just think it’s the competition?