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Previous Bears’ Teams Have Revamped Their Offensive Lines In One Offseason

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The Chicago Bears continue to prep for the 2022 offseason as the NFL Scouting Combine and free agency will take place in just a few weeks. Outside of developing second-year quarterback Justin Fields, general manager Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus need to rebuild an offensive line that allowed 58 sacks in 2021. Although rebuilding an offensive line with a new general manager and head coach can be difficult for any NFL team, previous Bears’ teams have been successful in one offseason.

The Bears’ have had their share of good and bad offensive lines over the last 20 seasons. One of the worst offensive lines Chicago has ever had was the 2004 team that allowed 66 quarterback sacks. Chad Hutchinson and Craig Krenzel started five games each and were sacked 23 times each. Due to the extremely poor pass protection, the Bears would finish with the worse passing offense in the NFL that season.

In the following offseason, former Bears’ head coach Lovie Smith vowed to improve the offensive line as they signed guard Roberto Garza and right tackle Fred Miller during free agency. Garza and Miller would join guard Ruben Brown, center Olin Kreutz, and left tackle John Tait to form Chicago’s 2005 offensive line. The Bears’ offense line in 2005 would make significant improvements as they only allowed 31 sacks with a rookie quarterback in Kyle Orton, who started 15 games. Chicago had the eighth-best rushing offense in the league as they recorded close to 2,100 rushing yards.

Bears-Saints today! Here’s one of my favorite Bears-Saints moments:

8 plays. 8 runs. One back. One touchdown.

This is how you run the ball!https://t.co/VhGMwVji9K

salute to @thomasqjones @Jmack37 @olin_kreutz @Roberto_Garza63 @Ruben7974 @dezclark88 @MooseMuhammad87 pic.twitter.com/TDuxAcnxIn

— Jack M Silverstein (@readjack) October 20, 2019

Seven seasons later, in 2012, the Bears’ offensive line again performed poorly as quarterbacks Jay Cutler and Jason Campbell were sacked 44 times. Due to Chicago’s poor offensive performance, which led to the team missing the playoffs, Smith was fired as head coach at the end of the season. General manager Phil Emery focused on hiring an offensive-minded head coach to rebuild the offense. Emery hired Marc Trestman to oversee the offensive rebuild, including the offensive line.

In the offseason before the 2013 season, Chicago improved their offensive line through both free agency and the draft. During that off-season’s free agency period, the Bears signed Pro Bowl tackle Jermon Bushrod and guard Matt Slauson. During the 2013 NFL Draft, Chicago would draft Oregon guard Kyle Long with the 20th overall selection and selected tackle Jordan Mills in the seventh round.

#Bears will likely have at least three new starters on the offensive line to start the 2013 season.

— Zach Zaidman (@ZachZaidman) April 26, 2013

Although Trestman is often viewed as one of the worst head coaches in Bears’ history, the 2013 Bears’ offense is regarded as one of the best in franchise history. Chicago would finish with the second-best offense as the offensive line allowed 30 sacks, while running-back Matt Forte would rush for a career-high 1,339 rushing yards that season. The success of Chicago’s offensive line was highlighted by Long’s Pro Bowl appearance in his rookie season.

Poles And Eberflus Have Several Advantages To Assist With Rebuilding Chicago’s Offensive Line.

Although the Bears’ will have to improve from the 58 sacks allowed in 2021, Fields’ mobility and new offensive coordinator Luke Getsy’s offensive scheme will help tremendously in 2022. Getsy’s offensive playbook will utilize a lot of rollouts and bootlegs, which will be different from former Bears’ head coach Matt Nagy’s offense that featured traditional passing-pockets. The mix of a mobile quarterback and an offense that features moving pockets will automatically cut down on the potential for quarterback sacks.

Will Luke Getsy be the right guy for this offense? Nobody can say yet.

What matters is Eberflus likes him and trusts him. He believes the new OC can craft an offense around Justin Fields and maximize the QB’s strengths.

It’s not about the plays. It’s about the players.#Bears

— Erik Lambert (@ErikLambert1) February 1, 2022

The other advantage that the new Bears’ front office has working in their favor in helping to build their offensive line is that they will have two second-year tackles that performed well last season. Larry Borom and Tevin Jenkins both flashed in 2021, despite battling injuries throughout the season. Borom had several standout moments protecting against some of the league’s best pass-rushers, including Nick Bosa and TJ Watt.

The success of Chicago’s rookie offensive tackles last season matters significantly as it allows the front office to focus more on the interior of the offensive line than the exterior. Poles and Eberflus will need to find a starting guard and center in either free agency or the draft if Chicago decides to move on from James Daniels and Cody Whitehair. Having to replace fewer positions on the offensive line is vital, given that Chicago has only five draft picks to work with during the 2022 NFL Draft.

If there’s one position I want the #Bears to be loaded at the most, it’s offensive line.

Protect Justin Fields, maximize RB efficiency, allow for plays to be extended. I’m really hoping an OL-minded front office makes it a priority to stock up on linemen.

— Jacob Infante (@jacobinfante24) February 18, 2022

With expectations low for the 2022 Bears’ season, an improved offensive line could lead to surprising results. When Chicago has lowered its’ sack totals due to improved pass-blocking, they either competed for a playoff spot or made the playoffs. For Poles and Eberflus, developing Fields is key, but development can’t take place if the Bears’ quarterback isn’t protected by a quality offensive line.

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