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Film Study: Bears OL play looked much improved in Week 1

The Bears’ offensive line held up in a big way last Sunday and was one of the unsung reasons for their victory against the Lions.

Chicago Bears v Detroit Lions Photo by Amy Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Last Sunday marked Bears offensive line coach Juan Castillo’s first game with the team. If that game was any indication of the rest of his time in Chicago, the hire could prove to be a slam-dunk addition.

From allowing just one sack and not causing any holding penalties to a rushing attack that totaled 149 yards, the Bears’ offensive line was an unsung hero as a collective unit that was arguably its best performing position group all day.

The Bears had a solid offensive line in 2018, even sending Charles Leno Jr. and Cody Whitehair to the Pro Bowl for their efforts. However, despite having very little personnel turnover outside of Rashaad Coward replacing an injured Kyle Long instead of Bryan Witzmann, the group regressed in 2019. Said regression was the cause of the team firing then-offensive line coach Harry Hiestand, despite his being one of the most revered coaches at the position in the league.

While it’s hard to assuredly say this early that bringing in Castillo was a fantastic move, Chicago’s offensive line certainly looked a lot better against the Lions in Week 1 than it did for much of last season.

The play-calling, relying more on outside-zone runs and multiple tight end sets than the previous year, played to the unit’s strengths much better. Two players in particular, guards James Daniels and Germain Ifedi, surpassed expectations. Daniels has always been athletic, but he complemented that quickness with nice power at the point of attack last week. Ifedi had previously been deemed a first-round bust for his time in Seattle, but he brought a nasty edge to the Bears’ interior offensive line that had been lacking in 2019.

Whitehair was also his usual, reliable self, while Leno and Bobby Massie made some solid plays at the tackle position.

I broke down the Bears’ offensive line play in a recent thread on Twitter. While I chose to focus more on the run game, I threw in a couple plays in pass protection that I found especially intriguing.

What did you think about the Bears’ offensive line last week? Do you agree or disagree with the analysis? Let us know in the comments below.