Jermon Bushrod Days Until Chicago Bears Season Opener


The Bear Goggles On Countdown to Kickoff series continues with a profile of starting left tackle, #74 Jermon Bushrod. That means we are getting closer, but still 74 days until the Chicago Bears open the regular season against the Green Bay Packers.

After being be the primary left tackle during the New Orleans Saints’ Super Bowl championship season of 2009, Bushrod became considered a very good player at the most important position on the offensive line. He spent the first six years of his career with the Saints before leaving via free agency after back-to-back Pro Bowl appearances in 2011 and 2012.

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It was the Bears who took the plunge on Bushrod that off season, signing him to a five-year free agent contract worth $35 million. Bushrod helped solidify the Bears’ offensive line in his first season with the team, successfully holding down the left tackle position that they had so much trouble with in the past. Bushrod’s solid and consistent play was a huge benefit for the entire offense, and the free agent signing appeared to be a very good deal.

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He has always been a bit limited physically and athletically, but he made up for by being a smart player with great technique. His skills were only above average, but Bushrod’s play was much always greater than that. However, as time went along last season, Bushrod seemed to struggle more than ever before.

It is very difficult to pinpoint why, but Bushrod’s play slipped quite a bit last season. He was often beaten in one-on-one pass rush situations, and his production as a run blocker slipped as well. Bushrod simply did not look like the same player in 2014 than he had in the past.

What to Expect from Bushrod in 2015

First and foremost, Bushrod must get healthy. He has missed all of the off season workouts up until this point with a back injury, and while it is not really expected to be serious, Bushrod needs to get his work in so he can improve on his disappointing performance from last season.

I expect him to be mostly ready by the time training camp rolls around, and unless he sees any serious setbacks, he will be the Bears’ starting left tackle to open the season. However, for the first time in his Bears’ career, Bushrod could be getting some competition for his job. Breakout candidate Charles Leno has the athleticism and upside to succeed at left tackle, and Pro Bowl guard Kyle Long has been seeing some time at both tackle spots this off season.

With major coaching changes taking place this season, and the Bears being in a very tough division, 2015 looks like a bit of a rebuild year. If Bushrod continues to struggle to start the year, I could certainly see the Bears looking to see what they have in Leno or Long at left tackle. If one of them proves to good, the Bears may have found their left tackle for the next five years and beyond. With Bushrod, the long-term upside is relatively limited no matter how well he performs this season.

In a rebuild year, things like this commonly get considered.

I do have some confidence that Bushrod will turn things around after his rough year in 2014. That was his first bad year in six seasons as an every-down left tackle. It is fair to think that last season was just a down year, and he will be primed to perform in 2015.

For that to happen though, he needs to get healthy and claim his job before someone else does. There is a lot of turnover in the Bears’ organization right now, and if a guy like Bushrod does not look out, he could be next.

Next: Which Bears Made the 2015 All-NFC North Team?

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