James Daniels’ rough performance in Sunday’s loss to the Eagles is probably best summed up by this tweet:
I know Trubisky hasn’t played well but man...good luck to anyone playing in this setup. pic.twitter.com/I6nATpJ88q— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) November 4, 2019
It was, by Pro Football Focus’ grades, Daniels’ worst game of the season. His pass block grade (24.9) was by far his lowest of 2019, and the 4th-worst pass blocking performance by any center in Week 9. No center allowed more pass rushes (4) than Daniels did on Sunday.
““There’s times that, no matter who you are at center, that that’s going to happen,” Matt Nagy said on Monday. “Fletcher Cox has been doing that for a long time. He’s an all-pro.”
Halfway through Daniels’ first season as the Bears’ center has seen a mixed bag of results. (For what it’s worth, Whitehair’s also seen a dip in production at guard.) He played poorly in the Eagles game, but was coming off his strongest pass-blocking (84.4 grade) game of the season; Daniels didn’t allow a pass rush, sack, or QB hit against the Chargers. His numbers look relatively similar to last season, but the belief in Halas Hall is that he hasn’t played his best football yet.
“I think that right now, all in all, he’s learning the position,” Nagy added. “We could all be better… We’re learning with that process. The communication thing is big, we want to keep growing in that area, but he’s working hard.”
Nagy also mentioned that the play in the tweet above was an unscouted look, but wouldn’t get into what he would have preferred the center to do. It’s play like that – or Mitch Trubisky missing Allen Robinson on 3rd down in part because of how Daniels’ was getting moved at the line – that Nagy knows Daniels wants back.
“James knows he’s better in certain areas than some of his plays,” he said. “So we’ve just got to stay positive with him and realize that he’s young and that we can keep working with him.”
Line play has continued to be an issue this season, although Rashaad Coward has been an improvement over Kyle Long on the right side. As a team, though, they rank 27th and 22nd – according to PFF – in run blocking and pass blocking, respectively.
“I think all of them — that’s been some of the part there with us,” Nagy said. “A lot of it goes on the running back and the quarterback and the offensive line, it’s to each their own. We’re learning with that process.”