Chicago Bears Roster Breakdown 2016: Offense

Nov 26, 2015; Green Bay, WI, USA; The Chicago Bears huddle during the NFL game against the Green Bay Packers on Thanksgiving at Lambeau Field. Chicago won 17-13. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 26, 2015; Green Bay, WI, USA; The Chicago Bears huddle during the NFL game against the Green Bay Packers on Thanksgiving at Lambeau Field. Chicago won 17-13. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /
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Nov 9, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; Chicago Bears tackle Kyle Long (75) reacts during a 22-19 victory against the San Diego Chargers in a NFL football game at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Offensive line:

Projected starters: Left Tackle- Charles Leno Jr/ Left Guard- Cody Whitehair/ Center- Ted Larsen/ Right Guard- Kyle Long/ Right Tackle: Bobby Massie

Nobody is surprised by these names. The position of Left Guard and Center were Whitehair’s and Hroniss Grasu’s to lose, with Manny Ramirez and Ted Larsen brought in to provide competition and depth. With the retirement of Ramirez and the injury to Grasu, there is no more battling or competition, or depth. Larsen steps in with no fear of having to compete with anyone. This means that 4 of the 5 projected starters are mostly unknown to Chicago. Bobby Massie, Ted Larsen, and Cody Whitehair are all in their first season with the Bears and Charles Leno Jr was pressed into a starting role last year when Jermon Bushrod went down. Because of all these new faces at new positions the variance for this unit is huge! I’m talking flip a coin, you could have Harvey Dent or Two-face, kind of variance.

Depth: Absolutely NO ONE!!! I could rattle off the names of the back-ups on the offensive line but it wouldn’t matter because you wouldn’t recognize them anyway. With the injury to Hroniss Grasu and the very short-sighted release of Matt Slauson, this is the one position that the Bears can NOT have any more injuries. It’s very strange to say that a position that averages above 320 lbs is thin, but it’s worse than thin. This position is anorexic.

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Best Case: In a perfect Bears world Hroniss Grasu would have never gotten hurt. But reality has a way of happening. If things were to go perfectly for the Bears O-line from here on out what would it look like? The coaches love Charles Leno Jr. The early word is that Leno has all the traits necessary to be a solid left tackle: above average footwork, solid composure, and great hand placement. Cody Whitehair is a second round draft pick that many thought had the ability to be a late first rounder. He has all the strength necessary and is picking up the system better than most rookies. Ted Larsen is a veteran who played for a good offense in Arizona last season and has solid veteran experience (along with leading the league in training camp fights). Kyle Long will very likely renew his pro-bowl form with the move back to guard and his relationship with new right tackle Massie will have a smooth transition that makes them an amazing run blocking tandem on the right side. This offensive line at its best could be a top 8 unit in the NFL with two pro-bowlers in Long and Whitehair.

Worst Case: The worst thing that could happen to this group would be another season ending injury. Assuming that there are no more injuries on the O-line (knock on all the wood and fake IKEA wood in my apartment) we could still see a pretty bad situation this year. Charles Leno could possibly be exposed as a subpar Left Tackle, in combination with a Bobby Massie who doesn’t pass protect well, and we have another year in which Cutler gets sacked an average of 3 times per game. Larsen, who doesn’t have the quickest feet, could end up getting beat regularly and might struggle making the calls at the line due to his late switch to center in a new offense. Cody Whitehair is a rookie so the chance of being a rookie bust is always in play. In this scenario, this could be one of the 10 worst units in the league.

Cap Hit: Charles Leno (611k), Cody Whitehair (770k), Ted Larsen (1.6 mil), Kyle Long (2.6 mil), Bobby Massie (5.8 mil). With three starters still on their rookie contracts, it is quite possible that we have the cheapest starting offensive line in the NFL. If you added all of our starters 2016 cap hit together they would rank 3rd among all offensive lineman behind Ryan Kalill (11.8 mil). Enjoy it while it lasts because very, very soon Kyle Long will have to get paid, and this number will increase dramatically.

Projected 2016 ranking: Because of all the changes and the lack of depth it is likely that this team starts off below average and improves throughout the season. Rank 13-15

Next: Tight Ends and Fullbacks