It would be one thing if the Chicago Bears offensive line weren’t all that talented, or they were getting bad coaching. Those are the types of things that new GM Ryan Poles can understand. Things that are out of the players’ control. However, one thing he can’t forgive is a player unwilling to stick up for his teammates. Especially the quarterback. The entire job of every offensive lineman is to keep the QB upright and defend them against cheap shots.
If a defense tries to take liberties with him, they’ll quickly find themselves in a scrum with five 300 lbs giants. Except this wasn’t the case for much of 2021. Justin Fields got sacked 36 times last season and hit several more. Too often, he was finding himself on his back. That was bad enough. Yet for Poles, what made it so much worse was watching the offensive linemen standing around doing nothing—not even helping him up at times. That lack of camaraderie, along with an unwillingness to confront opponents whenever Fields took late hits, is a problem.
One Poles intends to fix according to Jason Lieser of the Chicago Sun-Times.
”You always have to take the side of your quarterback. That sets the tone. That allows the quarterback to have confidence in his group ahead of him and know that he has a group of five people that care about him and value him. They want him to succeed. That just breeds a different type of mentality.”
”That tells me a lot,” Poles said. ”So when it doesn’t happen — and there’s definitely clips that it didn’t — it bothers me. We’ll fix that.”
Evidence is piling up fast that Poles isn’t messing around. He has a clear agenda for the offensive line. They need to get lighter in weight, improve their quickness, and discover their inner junkyard dog. He wants intelligent and athletic players but also fighters. Guys that take it as a personal affront whenever the quarterback is touched. Not since the days of Kyle Long and Olin Kreutz have the Bears had such types.
This makes for an interesting discussion about who may or may not be back in 2022. Sam Mustipher, Jason Peters, Alex Bars, James Daniels, and Germain Ifedi are all free agents. Several of them are guilty of the exact things that angered Poles in the first place. It might be possible that none of them end up returning, which could mean at least three new starters up front next season.
Ryan Poles should have plenty of options in the draft
One thing that has stood out with this particular offensive line class is the number of maulers in the mix. Blockers that aren’t afraid to give guys a little extra to send a message or set the tone. Some examples include North Iowa tackle Trevor Penning, Tulsa tackle Tyler Smith, and Kentucky guard Darian Kinnard. This is in addition to their considerable traits such as size and brute strength.
— Erik Lambert (@ErikLambert1) February 6, 2022
It is essential to remember Ryan Poles viewed Kreutz as a role model of sorts when he first arrived in the NFL. That is the image the GM has in his head when he thinks of Bears offensive line play. If he maintains that standard moving forward, then the front five will get a lot meaner and a lot more physical.
Not a bad thing.
Too often, it felt like other teams had an easy time pushing the Bears around—especially the better opponents in the NFC and AFC. Dominating the trenches is a critical step to consistent success in the NFL. To do that, one must impose his will on another human being. If it takes accquiring more, for lack of a better term, pricks? Then Poles will do that.
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