Matt Nagy was adamant on Saturday night that he is not going to mix up the center position after James Daniels strong performance Week One of the preseason
We all saw what James Daniels could do at center in his NFL debut. The movement skills showed a tremendous ceiling and showed a player who was beyond his level of competition. It had many in the media questioning what the team would do with the rookie second-round pick.
Daniels came into camp competing with Eric Kush as a backup left guard. The injury to Hroniss Grasu has left more snaps open at backup center. While Ryan Pace and company said that the plan was for Daniels to transition to guard, it is hard to argue how natural he looked at his college position at center. Does the team move Cody Whitehair to guard, a position he was slotted to play in college, freeing up snaps for Daniels at center?
After the first practice post preseason week one, the answer is nope. Daniels took his regular spot as the backup center. Nagy mentioned that the team has no plans of moving Whitehair to guard.
His reasoning is sound, shuffling around the line can provide problems.
There is also the idea that the Chicago Bears would like to see the Daniels in more than just a half of football before making such a serious move. If they move Whitehair and Daniels struggles in his debut, where do you go from there? Once you make the move, there is no going back.
Still, the issue with that is, how will we know what Daniels can do against better competition or in a higher leverage situation without putting him there? The idea should be that he performed well against the second string unit, now it is time to bump him up in competition. What does seeing him against another second-team group do?
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At this point, it should not even matter, left guard or center for James Daniels. We have highlighted how his skill set translates easily to left guard. He also has taken a lot of left guard snaps in camp so far. If moving Whitehair to left guard seems like too many shuffling hats at this point, bump Daniels over Kush for the time being.
You know who a reliable backup center is? Eric Kush. The two can swap roles completely. Daniels can get snaps against higher quality competition, and the team does not have to do it at the expense of Whitehair.
Ryan Pace said that the plan all along was for him to start at left guard. If that is the plan, do it now, he looks ready. In this case, if he does struggle it is as simple as inserting Kush right back in.
Still, he is getting snaps at backup center more than backup guard. If the plan is to move Daniels to center and eventually slide Whitehair to guard, the time has to be now. When does Nagy want to to do it, in the regular season? That would present even more problems. Making the move now would at least give Whitehair two preseason games to adjust.
The Chicago Bears need to decide what they are doing with James Daniels and do it now. We need to see Daniels against better competition, and he deserves to get on the field with the starters in Week Two of the preseason. Whether that be guard or center, it needs to happen. Let’s see how Matt Nagy handles his first big decision as head coach.