Bears

Bears All-Decade Team: Kyle Long, Charles Leno anchor O-line

Bears

The Chicago Bears wrapped up their 100th season of football in disappointing fashion, but the 2010s provided Bears fans with some fun moments and personalities to cheer for.

In this nine-part series, we'll name our Bears All-Decade Team.

We've already covered linebackersdefensive linemenedge defenderscornerbackssafeties , wide receivers, quarterback and running backs. Next up: offensive line and tight ends.

Offensive Line

Kyle Long (guard), Roberto Garza (center), Charles Leno (tackle), Cody Whitehair (center/guard), Josh Sitton (guard)

The Bears haven't exactly been blessed with elite offensive line play in the 2010s, but they've managed to field five players over the last 10 years who each warrant recognition on this all-decade squad.

The first and most obvious is Long, who's been Chicago's vocal leader on and off the field since he arrived as a first-round pick out of Oregon back in 2013. He took the NFL by storm and was considered one of the best young linemen in the league after his rookie season; he was named to the All-Rookie team that year and was selected to the Pro Bowl for three consecutive seasons from 2013-15. 

 

Injuries have gotten the best of Long since his last Pro-Bowl year and he hasn't managed more than nine starts in any season since 2015. Regardless, he's been the Bears' best offensive lineman of the decade.

Garza isn't far behind Long when it comes to the most memorable linemen of the 2010s. After beginning his career with the Atlanta Falcons in 2001, Garza joined the Bears in 2005 and became a fixture in the starting lineup until 2014. He started 78 games in Chicago from 2010-14 and finished his career as a Bear with 145 total starts. He never received any all-star accolades or awards, but Garza was a huge part of the Bears' foundation for 10 years.

Leno, Jr., one of two players on this list who will likely enter the new decade as a starter, ended the 2010s as one of the Bears' most pleasant surprises. Leno was selected by the Bears with the 246th pick of the 2014 NFL draft, a draft slot that usually results in a player being a career backup, at best. Instead, Leno has developed into one of the most important players on the roster and one of the more competent starting left tackles in the NFL. He's started 78 games for the Bears and was selected to the 2018 Pro Bowl.

The other new-decade starter is Whitehair, who's been arguably the Bears' most valuable lineman when it comes to positional versatility and quality of play. Whitehair has started at both center and guard and has played both positions at a high level. The former second-round pick of the 2016 NFL draft has started all 64 games of his career and was selected to the 2016 All-Rookie Team and 2018 Pro Bowl. It's hard to imagine what the Bears' offensive line would be like if Whitehair wasn't in town. One thing's for sure: the offense would be in a lot of trouble.

Last but not least is Sitton, one of GM Ryan Pace's better free-agent decisions during his tenure with the Bears. Sitton signed with the Bears in 2016 after an eight-year career with the Green Bay Packers and immediately elevated the offensive line's toughness and effectiveness. His presence was short-lived (he started only 25 games in Chicago), but his impact was long-lasting. He made the Pro Bowl in his first season with the Bears and was a key part in running back Jordan Howard finishing second in the NFL in rushing that year.

Tight End: Martellus Bennett
2013-15

Bennett played three seasons for the Bears, started 41 games and put up remarkable numbers at a position that's plagued Chicago since the days of Mike Ditka.

In 2014, Bennett caught 90 passes for 916 yards and six touchdowns, numbers that coach Matt Nagy could only dream of from a tight end in his offense. By the time Bennett's run in Chicago was over, he caught 211 passes for 2,114 yards and 14 scores.