Chicago Bears: Massive improvements from offensive line

Chicago Bears (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Bears’ offensive line improved greatly from last season.

After an abysmal 2019 season from the Chicago Bears‘ offensive line, they looked like a completely different line this past Sunday. Both the run blocking and pass blocking looked much more technical and powerful against the Lions front seven.

Granted, it was the Lions and they didn’t have their star nose tackle from last season Damon Harrison as he is a free agent, but it still is a step up from any game last season the Bears had. According to Football Outsiders, the Bears offensive line ranked 29th in the NFL. They were only ahead of the Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Jets, and Miami Dolphins.

So what changed?

The Bears only made one change to their starting offensive line after the 2019 season and that was the addition of first-round pick Germain Ifedi. Ifedi was a guard as a rookie but switched to tackle and played horribly which led to him getting his fifth-year option declined. The Bears scooped him up for the discount and moved him to right guard.

The other major addition the Bears made was a new offensive line coach in Juan Castillo. Castillo has many years of experience coaching for over 20 years in the NFL as a variety of positions. Recently, he was the offensive line coach for the Buffalo Bills who turned around their run game under him as well.

Castillo was key in bringing in Ifedi as well as he really liked his raw talent and wanted to work with him. He also knew the Matt Nagy offensive scheme as well as he worked with Nagy for five seasons in the Andy Reid system that Nagy currently deploys.

Results from the game

For week one this season, the Bears were first for expected yards for each carry meaning their offensive line absolutely cleared holes and paved the way for David Montgomery, Tarik Cohen, and Cordarrelle Patterson. They were expected 4.83 yards per carry. Behind that line, Montgomery was third highest in the NFL in expected rushing yards per carry with 5.05. Here’s the tweet with the stats:

This led to the Bears rushing for 149 yards on 28 carries (5.3 average). David Montgomery led the backfield with 13 carries for 64 yards (4.9 average).

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All this basically says simply put is the Chicago Bears were spectacular upfront — actually the best in the NFL during week one. Nagy showed his commitment to the run game early on and that’s really going to help this team down the line if they can put things together in the first quarter instead of the fourth quarter.