While the Chicago Bears lack the type of weapons on the outside who could aid in Mitch Trubisky’s development as the team’s new starting quarterback, the offensive line is playing quite well.
Indeed, left tackle Charles Leno, left guard Josh Sitton, and right tackle Bobby Massie earned three of the five best grades handed out by Pro Football Focus in the Chicago Bears’ 35-14 loss against the Green Bay Packers on Thursday.
Thursday’s game was probably one the Bears would soon like to forget, but that trio of linemen were hardly to blame. For the first time since Week 10 of the 2016 season, the Bears had their full stable of starting offensive linemen with Cody Whitehair moving back to center and Kyle Long moving to right guard. It’s probably not a coincidence, then, that this group had three players peform at an above average level – despite poor play elsewhere.
One could argue that Leno Jr.’s grade was the most encouraging thing to come from the lopsided defeat, and perhaps I’m doing just that. If you recall, the Bears extended Leno Jr.’s contract before the season and he’s been a respectable pass blocking tackle from the left side since becoming a full-time starter in 2015. In addition, PFF clearly believes he’s improved his run blocking, as the soon-to-be 26-year-old tackle was ranked as the league’s 20th best run blocker with an 80.9 grade.
Sitton was out of action for the Bears’ Week 3 win against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but it didn’t look like he missed a beat. According to PFF, he didn’t allow a pressure as a pass blocker and also provided solid production as a run blocker. In other words, Sitton didn’t have any problems returning to his familiar home at left guard. The Bears’ original plan was to swap Sitton and Long, which was later confirmed by head coach John Fox. However, both Sitton and Long returned to positions in which they’ve both played at Pro Bowl levels in recent years.
Long and Sitton have the 20th and 23rd highest grades at Pro Football Focus among NFL guards this season. And over at left tackle, Leno Jr.’s grade puts him as the 26th rated offensive tackle. Bobby Massie hasn’t been great and Whitehair has struggled to find his footing while spending time at all three spots along the interior of the offensive line, but the pieces are there for a group that can protect the quarterback and lead the rushing game to prominence again.
And consider this, Bears quarterbacks have been sacked at a low, low rate of 4.9 percent since the start of the 2016 season (and that includes the relatively weak-mobility Mike Glennon). If this group can keep that kind of protection up for their new quarterback, Trubisky’s development will be better off for it.