The Chicago Bears played their starting offensive line for the entire first half against the Tennessee Titans, and the results were very pedestrian. While they did let exciting rookie Justin Fields play quarterback, the Bears held all their usual starting skill players out, so the numbers could have been skewed.
The running backs (Damien Williams and Khalil Herbert) only averaged 2.7 yards per carry, and the Titan defense was credited with one sack.
Here’s how I graded the starting offensive line.
- LT - Jason Peters: +18/-3 (85.7%)
- LG - Cody Whitehair: +18/-3 (85.7%)
- C- Sam Mustipher: +15/-6 (71.4%)
- RG - James Daniels: +17/-4 (81.0%)
- RT - Germain Ifedi: +13/-9 (59.1%)
I use a basic plus/minus system where if you do your job you get a +, but if not you get a -, and considering I don’t have all the specifics on responsibilities for each play, my grades (nor any other grades for that matter) aren’t to be taken as gospel.
Here are some basic thoughts on each player.
For a guy that was fishing a couple weeks ago, I thought Peters was the best of the bunch against Tennessee. Once he works himself into shape, and if he can stay healthy, Peters will be positive for the offense. He had a strong punch and he has much quicker feet than I was expecting to see from a 39-year old.
Robert Schmitz shared my sentiments on Peters.
For a guy that was fishing just a few weeks ago, #Bears Jason Peters looks shockingly quick. I'd expect a man his age to be MUCH slower when moving along his arc, Peters was anything but. Great sign going into Week 1 pic.twitter.com/odfr73t3Oe— Robert Schmitz (@robertkschmitz) August 29, 2021
Whitehair was just solid in the game, nothing flashy, nothing exciting, just decent play at left guard. He’s a pro and his presence on the line should help Peters get up to speed quicker in the Bears scheme, and help Mustipher, who is still trying to come into his own.
And about Mustipher, he’s just not getting much movement on some plays, which isn’t bad when his technique is sound and he’s able to turn his body to give ball carriers a seam, but he has to anchor better. The potential is there, the technique is there, he’s just getting pushed back a bit more than I’d like to see. Mustipher was also caught holding on Saturday night.
Daniels was solid in the game too, and my guess is he’ll get better as the year goes on. He’s still relatively new to right guard and he missed a couple weeks with a quad injury.
Ifedi was bad. This wasn’t the same guy that finished the 2020 season strong at right tackle, so hopefully he’s still working back from the hip flexor injury. He missed a lot of camp, and I’ll buy the rust excuse this week. But with 14 days until week one he better get himself in gear. Also for those with a keen eye, you may have noticed that Ifedi was graded on 22 snaps, while the other four only had 21. That’s because he was hit with a false start penalty, and while it wasn’t a play, he still needs to get dinged for the miscue.
I hate to say it, but I'd be salivating if I was Leonard Floyd. Germain Ifedi looked slow-footed and out of practice vs the Titans, and that sets Floyd up perfectly for a big game in Week 1.— Robert Schmitz (@robertkschmitz) August 29, 2021
Hopefully he was just knocking off rust, but he's definitely someone to monitor. pic.twitter.com/5lnD2HdWjY
I watched the second half to get an idea on some of the reserves up front, and while I didn’t grade their play I wanted to mention a couple players.
Alex Bars got some reps at center, and he looked comfortable. You can tell he spent time this offseason working on that, and his ability to play any position up front gives the Bears some options.
Rookie Larry Borom was decent, but just like I wrote a week ago when I did grade his play, he still has some technique issues to clean up. Anyone that believes — based on what he’s show so far in two preseason games — that Borom should be starting is just looking at him through Navy and Orange colored glasses. Borom certainly has the potential to start for the Bears at some point, and at the very least he’ll be a capable swing tackle as a rookie, but I’d rather he not be forced into starting action in 2021.
You guys can check out Brian Baldinger’s take on some of the o-line for another perspective. And I would suggest that anyone who enjoys o-line breakdowns to scour Twitter because there’s a lot of good stuff being shared on there each week.