Overshadowed by another competition on the offensive side of the ball, the Bears' right guard battle remains one of the team's bigger question marks heading into 2020. Converted defensive tackle Rashaad Coward is technically the incumbent, coming off a 2019 season in which he appeared in 13 games with 10 starts. Results were mixed, which obviously played a role in the Bears' signing of former first-round pick Germain Ifedi.
In a call with media on Wednesday afternoon, Matt Nagy outlined, for the first time, how he's approaching that battle as the Bears get closer to actually playing football at Halas Hall.
"We just see that as a competition where you got a guy with a lot of experience in Germain Ifedi versus a guy [Coward] with not as much experience," he said. "But two really good guys that we have a lot of belief in with an offensive line coach in Juan Castillo that believes heavily in both of them. Competition across the board and I just think for them, just like other positions, we gotta be really detailed with how we give reps and with how we evaluate that position."
The Bears are hoping that competition brings the best out of at least one of them, because neither had particularly inspiring 2019 seasons. According to Pro Football Focus, Coward allowed 25 pressures (21 hurries, 3 QB hits, 1 sack) over the 464 pass plays he was at guard for and was penalized four times. Ifedi, who's spent most of his career (and all of 2019) at tackle, allowed 50 pressures (38-6-6) and was penalized 13 times. Second-year undrafted free agent Alex Bars is probably third on the depth chart – realistically it's Ifedi or Coward's job. Because most of the veterans have yet to even begin football-related activities, however, any claims on an inside track are probably still a few weeks away.
"Those guys, meaning the vets, are a few days behind so they’re still getting ramped up in the lifting and conditioning," Nagy added. "We’re meeting and doing our installs and we take it to the class on the grass, the walkthroughs, and literally what they’re doing is breaking the huddle and going through their assignments."