Chicago Bears Film Room: James Daniels at guard is for the best
Chicago Bears HC and GM Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace see James Daniels as a guard in the NFL. Some may disagree, but there is a method to their madness
The selection of James Daniels gave Chicago Bears fans a quick moment of enthusiasm followed by a quick nerve of anxiety when hearing the team planned to move him from center to guard.
Here go the Bears again, shuffling the line around. Kyle Long move around for no good, Cody Whitehair had a sophomore slump after moving around. Here comes the third player that the Bears are trying to slow down. It is a fair criticism given Daniels has not played guard in two full seasons. Especially when the organization has this current track record.
However, Ryan Pace, Harry Hiestand and Matt Nagy are seeing things on the same page, and they should be given the patience to make this move.
We all know the story of Matt Nagy and how he became a prominent coaching candidate. Andy Reid, in need of a shakeup, called on Nagy to call the plays, something Reid has never done in his long line of assistants.
From there, the Chiefs running game took off for the better. One thing Matt Nagy did to help the run game was added more movement from his guards, vertically and horizontally. He put in extra pulls, pins, and whams to confuse the defensive line and give his team an advantage up front.
Watch the left guard, 70, pull across the line of scrimmage to seal off the left defensive end to crease off the running lane.
Below, you can see the left guard swing around the tackle to pick up the end. The right guard is then looking to swing around into the second level.
Of course, for as much input that Nagy will have in the run game, the team is handing over a lot of control to Harry Hiestand, former Notre Dame offensive line coach. Still, while the play below got blown up by Bradley Chubb, you can see the same concept as left guard Quenton Nelson is looking to loop outside.
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Hiestand was lucky to have a guard like Nelson. However, he was also smart to build up guards like Nelson. He wants his guards to get out into space and move. This not only can confuse the line up front, but also burst plays to the outside and into the second level.
Matt Nagy can see the importance of having an athletic guard who can get out in space. Below, Bryan Witzmann, 70, is unable to get into the second level and put hands on Kiko Alonso, 47. Alonso is able to cut off any cutback lane for Kareem Hunt.
Here is how it looks when the guard is able to get to the second level and get hands on the defender. There is much more space into the second level.
How James Daniels fits?
So what did Pace, Hiestand and Nagy both see when they looked at James Daniels? Athleticism. The ability to move out in space. They saw him fitting into the guard position that they both have been subscribing to.
Most teams do not pull their tackles and centers as much as their guards. It is tough for a center to snap the ball, change direction and get out into space with power in a quick manner. For a tackle, depending on the scheme, that is a lot of ground to cover.
What was so impressive about Daniels in college was his ability to make up all that ground after the snap, and shoot out of his stance to beat opponents to a spot.
The play below encompasses what the Chicago Bears are looking for in their offensive guard.
It is a similar type of block that was asked of the Kansas Chiefs left guard last season.
The ability to get out into space horizontally and vertically is quite possibly the best trick in Daniels bag as of right now.
To take away the responsibility of getting the snap off, and having him focus on getting to his spot it should make him more lethal in what is arguably his best strength as of now. The transition to guard should not only be an easy one for Daniels, but it could be one that does wind up maximizing his potential as an NFL athlete.