There were times throughout the 2019 season where it felt as though you and I could find three friends and we could blitz our way through the Chicago Bears’ offensive line. They allowed defensive pressure after just 2.37 seconds, and ran short on long-term bright spots as the season progressed.
The two catalysts to watch for are Cody Whitehair and James Daniels, the latter of which seeming poised for another big incremental leap in 2020. The two traded positions at the outset of last year, a sigh of relief after watching how overmatched Daniels was at center. But, they found success with Daniels at guard.
It didn’t take long for the results to show themselves; that end-of-season resurgence the Chicago Bears went through before the wheels fell off came in large part because Daniels and Whitehair were so solid at their respective positions.
The numbers themselves point to a potentially-elite guard in the near future: his 73.9 grade at left guard ranked No. 5 among 39 players, per Pro Football Focus. Consider this ratio — Daniels played in 1,069 snaps (No. 8 in the NFL), allowed just one sack.
The Bears allow 2.8 sacks per game, but the 22-year-old has such a little share in that total. He’s also only been responsible for four penalties. And with new signee Germain Ifedi, keeping individual penalties to a minimum is huge.
There’s a lot to like about what offensive line coach Juan Castillo has said about the team’s offseason work, too. Daniels has reportedly bulked up ten pounds. The message for Castillo was clear: “My guys are going to outwork everybody. And if they’re going to outwork everybody, then I have to do that.”
And if all works out, he could be working his way onto his first Pro Bowl team.