Even though they lost 17-9 on prime time to the rival Vikings, I went to bed last night feeling pretty good about the Chicago Bears... and I woke up this morning feeling the same way. Because while there was some bad stuff I could have chosen to harp on, I instead looked to the positives. Justin Fields played better than his numbers would indicate, Roquan Smith was again doing Roquan Smith things, Robert Quinn needs 2 sacks to set the Bears all-time single season sack record, rookie Thomas Graham Jr. was a revelation at corner in his first ever action, and second round draft pick Teven Jenkins played himself a heck of a game.
I thought he looked real good watching him live, and my re-watch solidified my thoughts. With 7 penalties in two games, the flags are definitely an issue he’ll need to clean up — there’s no denying that — but the first one he got last night was really ticky-tack, and I have no issue with the circumstances surrounding the last one.
The unnecessary roughness call was after he was rushing to defend his quarterback, and that’s the kind of fire you want from an offensive lineman. He was hit first by the Viking in the skirmish, but as usual the refs only caught Jenkins’ retaliation. A calmer and more experienced head would have let the Minnesota player pop him, jot down a mental note, and then got his revenge between the lines, but Jenkins made a statement and I’m okay with it.
I’m not okay with the reaction from right tackle Germain Ifedi. That was worse than what Jenkins did.
Ifedi's overreaction on this was wrong. I get the vet wanted to come in to cool off the rookie, but this ain't the way to do it. I hope someone talked to him after the game. This should have been an arm around the rook and a walk away talk, not a prime time chastising. #Bears https://t.co/iHPuKfTRxo— Lester A. Wiltfong Jr. (@wiltfongjr) December 21, 2021
Stick up for your guys on the field, never show your teammates up, and do the veteran teaching moment thing on the sideline or in the locker room.
But now on to Jenkins’ first ever start in the National Football League.
My grading philosophy is a simple one for offensive linemen, you either do your job or you don’t. A positive play will get a plus while I give a minus to any negative plays. I don’t grade on a curve, I don’t give style points for an extra punishing block, and I don’t dock extra points for a penalty. I also don’t know his specific assignment on every play, so the only grade that truly matters is the one that his position coach gives him, but I do my best to make an educated guess on each snap.
I graded Jenkins on 71 total offensive snaps, and I had him down with a +64/-7, which comes out to a 90.1%.
His technique was much improved over his first action in relief of Jason Peters at left tackle a week ago, and this type of week to week growth is what you love to see from rookies.
I GIF’ed up a few plays from the Monday night game that I wanted to highlight here.
This play was much talked about on social media last night, but what impressed me was that it came one play after his flinch cost the team 5 yards. I got the sense he was pissed at himself for the penalty so he took it out on Anthony Barr.
He had a nice pull to the outside, he engaged with Barr to give the ball carrier a path, then after Barr slipped the initial contact Jenkins finished him to the ground. For those wondering the whistle had not blown yet, so this play was 100% legal.
His play to the whistle mentality was on full display on this David Montgomery run in this GIF.
Playing offensive line isn’t always pretty, and on that block he gets to his assignment and just keeps hustling and driving his man upfield.
This GIF shows his controlled pass set, but take notice of his hand usage. When I broke his play down in my Sackwatch last week, I noticed his punch wasn’t effective at all on the 2 sacks allowed. The timing was off and he was lunging when throwing his hands. On this play he maintains his balance after the punch which allows him to stay on front of the defender.
Also take a look at big #76 hustling back into the screen after the pass was completed to Cole Kmet.
This is the last play of the game, and Jenkins is nearly beat to the edge, but he never panics and his good balance keeps him in position to push the edge defender past the pocket, which allows Justin Fields to step up and deliver a TD pass to Jester Horsted.
I hope the Bears keep Jenkins in the starting line up even if Peters recovers from his high ankle sprain. These last three games should be all about seeing the young players play and develop for 2022.