Bears

Bears Season in Review: Offensive line

Bears Season in Review: Offensive line

The Bears' offensive line was viewed as one of the team's biggest strengths at the start of the 2019 season. By the time the year came to an end, it was considered one of the club's biggest weaknesses. 

The most concerning issue with the offensive line's regression was that it wasn't isolated to a single player. All five starters played a part in the disappointing performance.

The biggest letdown came at right guard. Kyle Long, even when healthy, was a far cry from the player who at one time was considered one of the most talented offensive linemen in the league. His body failed him again, leading to another injury-shortened year that continued a streak of four straight seasons of nine games or less. Long decided to retire this offseason, leaving the Bears with a big void that GM Ryan Pace has to fill this offseason.

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Long was replaced by Rashaad Coward, and while Coward's play wasn't terrible, he isn't the long-term answer the Bears need in the starting lineup. 

Chicago didn't fare much better at offensive tackle, where Bobby Massie and Charles Leno, Jr. each had a season to forget. Massie earned the lowest Pro Football Focus grade of his career (63.2), while Leno, Jr. earned his second-worst (58.6). The offense didn't stand a chance as a result. It's unlikely either player will be replaced in 2020, but more depth (at the very least) is needed.

And let's not forget the drama at center and right guard, where Cody Whitehair and James Daniels were forced to switch positions midseason because of Daniels' struggles at the pivot. Both players fared well once the swap was made. Whitehair finished the year with the Bears' eighth-highest grade on offense from PFF, while Daniels' 70.3 was third-best.

NFL offenses simply don't stand a chance without a functional and consistent offensive line. The 2019 Bears are proof of that. But don't expect sweeping changes (sans right guard) to be made this offseason. Leno, Jr., Massie, Whitehair and Daniels will begin 2020 as starters, and there's a good chance Coward will too. There might be a chance to add a starting-quality player in the second round of the 2020 NFL draft, and the Bears should take advantage of that opportunity if it presents itself. But with salary-cap issues and limited draft capital, Chicago may have little choice but to give this unit another season to prove they are, in fact, one of the better starting-fives in the NFC. 

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Report: Bears have ‘been in touch’ with Bengals about Andy Dalton trade

Report: Bears have ‘been in touch’ with Bengals about Andy Dalton trade

As the Bears look to acquire a veteran quarterback to push Mitch Trubisky, one name that’s been thrown around is Andy Dalton.

According to The Athletic’s Paul Dehner Jr., the Bears have “been in touch” with the Bengals regarding a potential Dalton trade.

Dalton comes with a hefty cap hit ($17.5 million) and is only under contract through 2020, but Trubisky being on his rookie deal would help the Bears stomach his salary. The 32-year-old threw for 3,494 yards with 16 touchdowns and 14 interceptions last season, sporting 78.3 passer rating.

Adding Dalton would give the Bears insurance in case Trubisky’s 2019 struggles persist next season. Dalton is an established veteran who is familiar with Bears offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. The two worked together from 2016-18, when Lazor was Cincinnati’s quarterbacks coach (2016) and OC (2017-18).

Dehner’s report doesn't offer any specific packages the Bears and Bengals have discussed. However, barring a surprise, Cincinnati will select LSU quarterback Joe Burrow No. 1 overall in the NFL draft in two months. Considering Burrow is set to become the Bengals’ quarterback of the future, trading Dalton will give him the chance to play elsewhere.

The Bears have made it clear Trubisky is entering 2020 as their starter. However, someone like Dalton could usurp him if the former No. 2 overall pick can’t find his footing this season.

Black History Month: The courage to be a black quarterback

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USA TODAY

Black History Month: The courage to be a black quarterback

NBCS Chicago is celebrating Black History Month with special episodes to discuss the impact of the black athlete in sports. In the final episode of the series, Laurence Holmes is joined by his "Football Aftershow" teammate and former Chicago Bear Alex Brown to discuss, making coaching in the NFL more diverse, is the Rooney Rule helping, and the common practice of moving black quarterbacks to other positions.

(4:20) - Alex Brown on being pushed to not play quarterback in high school

(9:15) - Jalen Hurts asked would he be willing to change positions in the NFL

(17:03) - Alex Brown on playing in a Super Bowl that featured 2 black head coaches

(22:12) - Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy not being mentioned for a head coaching job

(26:00) - Does the Rooney Rule work?

(40:35) - Overcoming unfairness

(44:28) - Watching a NFL where there are successful black quarterbacks

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player  below:

Under Center Podcast

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