Well alrighty then.
Just when many of us thought (current) center Cody Whitehair and (current) left guard James Daniels have solidified their respective roles on the Chicago Bears’ starting O-Line, head coach Matt Nagy made a suggestion towards the contrary. This comes even after Cody earned his first Pro Bowl nomination and made significant progress as a quality center in the NFL. Moreover, James settled in rather nicely at guard after he took over the position for Eric Kush, in my personal opinion.
This revelation is somewhat surprising given how well the unit played during the season along with all five players returning for at least another season together. When the season ended, the starting five linemen were: Charles Leno Jr.; James Daniels; Cody Whitehair; Kyle Long; and Bobby Massie. Bobby Massie signed a multi-year extension prior to the start of free agency, and Kyle Long restructured his contract to give the Bears more breathing room in total cap space.
Naturally, continuity is the best way to improve the O-Line, right?
Well, not exactly, at least if that’s what my guess would be for Nagy’s motivation behind shuffling players along the starting lineup.
When James Daniels was drafted in 2018, he was announced as a center. He spent a majority of his collegiate career at Iowa in that very position. He excelled in one of the nation’s best programs for developing professional linemen. It was only a matter of time before he would assume the role as a center in the NFL.
Meanwhile, Cody Whitehair was originally pegged as the starting left guard for the Bears following his selection in the 2016 draft. That was until former Pro Bowl guard Josh Sitton was suddenly released by the Green Bay Packers. Cody was instead wedged in between Sitton and Kyle Long, which seemed reasonably wise at the time.
Fast forward to 2019, and the Bears are hard at work in looking to improve their run blocking up front. Forget what’s potentially going on at the runningback position, there is a definite need in finding ways to pave lanes in the ground game. Returning Whitehair and Daniels to their respective “natural” positions could be an answer for the Bears long-term.
If you ask some of our O-Line gurus on these boards, you’ll likely hear the phrase, “play your best five linemen and let them sort everything else out.” I agree with this logic to an extent. However, I also feel the need to identify a player’s best position ASAP and have them entrenched in that particular spot. The last thing we need is for Danieal Manning Syndrome (DMS) to develop in the trenches.
Or, I suppose, Cody Whitehair Syndrome (CDS) in this particular instance.
Anyway, a debate once declared over is back in full swing. This is barring any further surprises of course. We’ll pass along anything else we hear along the way.