The interior of the Chicago Bears is so strong (how strong is it?), it helped earn a top-five ranking from the folks over at Pro Football Focus despite having a pair of tackles who leave much to be desired in pass protection.
Josh Sitton is viewed as one of the anchors of this group. The nine-year NFL veteran and four-time Pro Bowler enters his second season in Chicago and will participate in his first training camp with the Bears starting in July.
Sitton came to the Bears late in the preseason after being cut by the Green Bay Packers. Shortly after his release, Sitton and the Bears agreed on a multi-year contract and the Bears (specifically, fellow Pro Bowler Jordan Howard) were off and running. Now, Sitton attempts to follow up with a second straight solid season.
While previewing the upcoming year, Pro Football Weekly ranked Sitton as one of the 10 best guards in football. In fact, Sitton ranks 10th on the list and is keeping some pretty good company. Here is what PFW had to say about Sitton:
“At 6-4, 320 pounds, he is athletic enough to pull and get to the second level while being more than sturdy enough to take on bigger tackles trying to collapse the pocket. Sitton also plays with great leverage and, in matchups where the low man almost always wins, Sitton almost always gets the lowest.”
Sitton’s skills as a two-way blocker have vaulted him up the rankings. Last year, Sitton was PFF’s fourth best pass-blocking guard and 25th in run blocking. So his inclusion in the top 10 seemed like just a formality.
However, missing in action in the top 10 is Kyle Long, Sitton’s partner in crime.
Long finished the season on injured reserve with an ankle injury, but also battled a shoulder injury. He didn’t participate in offseason training activities, and could miss some time early in camp. But if he can start the regular season healthy, the tag team of Sitton and Long should provide a positive impact for an offensive line expected to lead the way for an offense that has question marks at quarterback, receiver, and possibly tight end.
Last season, Long was PFF’s 28th rated guard with a 78.1 grade. Long ranked as the site’s 17th best pass blocking guard, but just 42nd as a run blocker.
Kelechi Osemele of the Oakland Raiders is PFW’s top rated guard, with Zack Martin (Cowboys), Trai Turner (Panthers), Marshal Yanda (Ravens), and David DeCastro (Steelers) rounding out the top five. T.J. Lang, who signed with the Detroit Lions in the offseason and was Sitton’s teammate when the two played for the Packers, ranks sixth on the list and is the only other NFC North representative.