How has the Chicago Bears offensive line looked through the first half of the 2018 season?
As the Chicago Bears hit the midway point in the 2018 NFL season, it is an excellent chance to look back at how the team has fared through eight games. This post will grade the offensive line at the halfway point, and project the future.
Charles Leno was the teams best offensive lineman over the teams first four or five weeks. However, he has started to tail off recently. He has allowed four sacks, and all of them have come in the last four games. Last week, Jerry Hughes beat Leno for a sack.
Leno also endured some penalties last week. He is not relied on much as a run blocker, as the team does not run off his side much, and when they do, they are running sweeps to the outside, and not necessarily off of the tackle.
Therefore, he is relied on as a pass blocker. Through the first quarter of the year, he was easily playing at an A level. However, last week was his worst performance and the game or two before they were trending this way as well. Leno will likely see Ziggy Ansah in Week Nine with a big chance to get his season back on track.
Bobby Massie has somehow trended towards being a bit more consistent. He has not necessarily been strong either, but his last three games have not been as bad as Leno. Pro Football Focus has him rated 27th overall, which is starter caliber.
Still, his first four or five games had him being a potential player that may need to move to the bench. Still, with Bryan Witmann seeing snaps at right guard next to Eric Kush, it is safe to say that Massie is not going anywhere this season. He will continue to be a middle of the road, slightly above replacement level play.
Kyle Long went on the IR and will end up with an incomplete grade. It is tough to say exactly where he would have stood as he was shaking off the rust from his last injury. With that in mind, he was not necessarily great in the running game. While the team was unable to get him into space in the running game, he was technically sound and was not a liability.
Against the pass, he was held in the same regard. It is tough to grade hardly on Long, especially when he is an unfinished product.
Eric Kush came in at right guard and split time with Bryan Witzmann. Kush started the first six games at left guard but missed one game due to an injury. That is likely why Witzmann saw the platoon. It could also be because Kush has not been that great. Kush was dueling with Massie for the most significant liability and had Long stayed healthy; Kush likely would have moved into a reserve role.
With that said he has held up and came back from an injury when called upon last week. He was a stop gap for James Daniels and served as just that, so it is hard to stay too disappointed.
James Daniels started to see time at the end of Week Four against the Buccaneers. From there, he was eased in a platoon until the Kush injury thrust him into a full game starting. Daniels was fine and has now started and played in two consecutive games. The Long injury has ensured he will hold down his job. We will see as Daniels progresses what he is.
Cody Whitehair has quietly been the best lineman on the team. No one has talked about the snap issues for a few weeks now. With that in mind, no one has spoken about Whitehair. That is usually good from a national perspective because it means they are not complaining. When they are not criticizing it must mean Whitehair is doing something right.
As a pass blocker, he has not surrendered a single sack. As a run blocker, he is the strongest and potentially most athletic, depending on how well Daniels can adjust his athleticism. Nonetheless, nobody is playing better for this group than Whitehair.