Matt Slauson: Chicago Bears’ Most Under-Appreciated Player


As a Bears fan, I feel like I need to sit down. Accolades are being heaped upon the team like they are Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots. We’ve heard that Jay Cutler has turned the corner and is playing big-time at the QB position, we’ve heard Alshon Jeffery should be paid like an elite wideout, we’ve heard how Vic Fangio has turned around the defensive unit, we’ve heard Jeremy Langford has sparked the Bears in their last two victories.

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Is this the same franchise that almost were laughed out of the NFL last season? With all these accolades, the playoff talk has begun. But this article isn’t to talk about whether the Bears have a legitimate shot at the playoffs or if the talk is premature, it’s to talk about the one player on the roster that you have to thank more than any other for the Bears turnaround. No, it’s not Cutler. Nope, it’s not Jeffery. Nope, it’s not Kyle Long either, but you’re warming up.

Bears fans, meet Matt Slauson.

Yes, I know you’ve heard of him. Of course, I know you know he’s started on the offensive line the last three seasons. But do you really realize how well he’s playing? Slauson has been a leader on the line and for the entire offensive unit, he’s been versatile, and he’s been a rock in the middle. Slauson not only deserves a Pro Bowl nod this year, but he should also be considered at an All-Pro level- he’s been that good.

Nov 15, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; Chicago Bears running back Jeremy Langford (33) is picked up by guard Matt Slauson (68) after running in for six yard touchdown against the St. Louis Rams during the second half at the Edward Jones Dome. Chicago defeated St. Louis 37-13. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s start with Slauson’s versatility. Slauson has been moved back and forth between guard and center all season depending on where the Bears need him. Slauson hadn’t played any real time at center since 2009 when he dabbled at it a little with the New York Jets but was thrust into the position earlier this year when Will Montgomery went down with an injury. Slauson performed admirably and was moved back to guard and has been back at center since Hroniss Grasu has been down with an injury. He’s been able to play wherever John Fox and Adam Gase have needed him and that type of versatility cannot be overstated enough. Grasu has a lot of talent, but Slauson has played so well at center, the Bears are going to have a decision to make moving forward.

Slauson’s pass protection has been dynamite. Slauson surrendered a sack against the St Louis Rams but in came at the hands of Aaron Donald, arguably the league’s best defensive tackle. Before that Slauson hadn’t given up a sack since 2014, he had been flawless in that department this season, going 11 straight games without surrendering a sack. Not only has Slauson only given up one sack, but his man has barely even gotten pressure on Cutler. Slauson has five games this year where he didn’t allow one quarterback pressure. We’ve always known that if you give Cutler time to throw, he can perform, and this offensive line is playing spectacularly.

Watching the line play, Slauson has made several key blocks on plays that have gone for double digit gains and threw the critical block that sprung Jeremy Langford on his 83-yard screen pass against the Rams.

Check out the video below…

Watch Slauson (No.68) on the play. He snaps the ball, briefly blocks his man before releasing to the flat.  The defensive line bites leaving Langford a chance for a large gain with three blockers in front of him. Rams CB Trumaine Johnson comes across the field with an opportunity to force Langford out of bounds shortly after the first down. Even if Langford side steps Johnson, he’s going to have to cut to the inside where there are other Rams that will be able to bring him down. But Slauson throws a tremendous block and completely neutralizes Johnson nearly 10 yards down field. Thanks to that block, Langford was able to spring down the sidelines before cutting towards the middle of the field and galloping to the endzone. You’ll notice the other two lineman that released with Slauson failed to block anyone. It was Slauson’s block that keyed the entire play.

Langford received all the accolades; Slauson’s block was barely even noticed. That’s nothing new for Slauson (or offensive linemen in general), but it’s about time he’s recognized for his superb play. The offensive line has keyed the running game and is giving Cutler the time to perform. Matt Slauson is the reason the line is playing at this level. Take notice Bears fans, Slauson deserves the attention.