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How athletic is the Bears offensive line?

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Using the Relative Athletic Scores compiled by @MathBomb, we check in on how athletic the Bears offensive line is.

NFL: Chicago Bears OTA Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

All day on Friday, Kent Lee Platte, who writes for our sister site Pride of Detroit, has been Tweeting out the Relative Athletic Scores (RAS) for everyone on the Chicago Bears roster. Now before you dismiss the data because he’s a Lions’ fan, do understand that Kent approaches the RAS from a mathematical angle, and not from a football fan angle.

It’s only numbers and there’s no no room for bias in a math equation.

The RAS is all the player’s measurements from the NFL Combine or pro day, “on a 0 to 10 scale compared to their peer group.” It’s a neat athletic snapshot in comparison to others at their position, and the database is always being updated.

The Bears run a zone blocking scheme for the most part, so having athletic players on the offensive line is a must. The quick Cliff Notes version of the ZBS is that all five blockers will step in the direction of the running play, and depending on what crosses their track, they’ll either block what’s in front of them or continue up to the second level.

The five Bears expected starters for the 2019 season have RAS ratings — from right to left — of good, elite, elite, good, and great.

  • Bobby Massie has been a solid right tackle during his time in the NFL with 92 starts in 100 career games between the Cardinals and the Bears. His athleticism isn’t something that you normally think of when watching him play, but when Massie plays with good technique he’s plenty athletic to cut off those speedy edge rushers. His second level work is underrated too.
  • Right guard Kyle Long is healthy and his teammates are noticing. “Sometimes when I do stuff physically now, people kind of look at me like a guy who came back from the dead — like, where has this guy been? And that’s nice,” Long said via the Chicago Sun Times on Wednesday after the Bears’ practice.

With three straight Pro Bowls to start his career, Long was on his way to being one of the better offensive linemen in the team’s history, but missing 22 games the last three years with various injuries slowed his ascension.

Besides being an elite athlete, Long is a powerful mauler in the run game. If healthy, his combination of speed and strength could find the 30-year old back in the Pro Bowl.

  • James Daniels is being moved to center in 2019 after a year of getting acclimated to the pro game at left guard. I’m excited to see him play the position he dominated at while a member of the Iowa Hawkeyes. Daniels’ technique and athleticism flashed last year, and after a full year working on his strength I expect big things this season.
  • Cody Whitehair made the Pro Bowl in 2018 as a center, but I think moving to left guard will free his mind to simply get after people. He’s a very cerebral player that has gotten hit with the overthinking label by some, but In three years, mostly at center, Whitehair hasn’t missed a start and he’s only missed 26 offensive snaps. He’s the total package as a lineman and I think he would thrive at any position.
  • Whitehair’s playing time has been impressive, but left tackle Charles Leno Jr. has been even better in the last three years by only missing 8 offensive snaps. Since taking over as the starting left tackle on October 4, 2015, he hasn’t missed a start. His ability to pull and get out in front on sweeps is something he did a lot when John Fox was the head coach, and his athleticism still flashes with Matt Nagy calling plays.

With the Bears adding some new running backs to the mix this year, backs that should thrive in the scheme, I expect the offensive line to play good football. The running game should be more effective, and with year two of the offensive system in place, I think we could see a decrease in sacks allowed too.

Kent shared with me his entire RAS spreadsheet for the Chicago Bears roster, and you can see that here.

For more on the Bears’ o-line, I joined Robert Schmitz on his podcast last week, and you can listen to that right here.