Making case for Sam Mustipher starting center for Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears have not quite made it clear how they plan to deploy their offensive line group in week one. There are cases to be made for combinations of players with three different starters at center. While Sam Mustipher did not start the season as the Bears starting center, he did finish the season from week 12 on as the starter.
While the Bears could go back to Cody Whitehair or James Daniels, there is a case to be made that they are best off sticking with Sam Mustipher.
Why Sam Mustipher should start at center for Chicago Bears
When the Bears turned to Mustipher in week 12, the running game improved drastically. In the first 11 weeks of the season, David Montgomery had a 39.7% success rate. Meanwhile from week 12 on Montgomery posted a 53.9% success rate.
This cannot be all attributed to Mustipher, but when he got into center, a lot of things started to click for the offensive line.
Beyond that, Mustipher has a chance to bring continuity to the line that has had and will have more shakeups. However, beyond Mustipher playing well, Cody Whitehair has always been better at left guard than center. That showed in the final stretch last year. Keeping Mustipher at center means that Whitehair can settle into left guard where he excelled last season and consistently.
James Daniels would likely have to move to right guard, but with Whitehair, Mustipher, and Daniels, the interior would be young and would have defined roles to build off not only for this season but into the next couple of years. They could finally feel safe about their interior core.
Why Sam Mustipher should not start at center for Chicago Bears
The biggest question is that we all knew the Chicago Bears’ back half of their schedule was going to loosen things up for the run game. It is also fair to say that he was much better as a run blocker than pass. The best games Sam Mustipher played were against Detroit and Houston, two teams that had bottom seven records in 2020.
His two worst games were both times he played against the Saints, which of course were the two best teams he played. It says something that despite Daniels going down early, and shifting and moving amongst the line that Mustipher was not the first option off of the bench last year, but rather more of a last resort.
It worked out for Chicago, but they may see the combination of the soft schedule, and James Daniels coming back and say that they have a trusted backup on their hands now. With Justin Fields coming in and potentially starting this year the Bears may want the experience of Whitehair, or as the plan had always been, they feel Daniels is more comfortable to play center now.
With Daniels at center, and Alex Bars, and Cody Whitehair at guard they are just as young and optimistic about their future.