Teven Jenkins injury impacts future as much as present for Chicago Bears

Chicago Bears - Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Chicago Bears - Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /

The news that Teven Jenkins is having back surgery is devastating for the Chicago Bears. The team anticipated him to be their starter at left tackle and had to sign 39-year old Jason Peters to replace him. However, this injury goes far beyond the 2021 season, which may be a wash for Jenkins.

This is a serious procedure and it may mean we do not see Jenkins on the field in 2022. Even then, there are legitimate questions about his long-term health and his ability to get back into the swing of things after so much time off.

Matt Nagy said that this type of surgery and its timing are what make him optimistic about the future. However, this is the same Nagy that a few days ago was saying that Jenkins would be back any day now. He is naturally optimistic about his player’s health when facing the media.

The sad reality is that the back is an issue that does not just go away, and not many rookies can miss their entire first season and then hit the ground running by the next year. All of a sudden the deck is stacking against Jenkins

Historical Comparisons of rookies missing their first season

Below is a list of every offensive lineman drafted in the first two rounds to suit up in five or fewer games in their rookie season. Five games would be an optimistic best case for Jenkins. Keep in mind, these are not starts, but rather rookies who were inactive for more than 10 games after being drafted in the top 64 picks.

Query Results Table
1Luke Joeckel2013221-2JAX255
2Chris Lindstrom2019221-14ATL355
3Shawn Andrews2004221-16PHI111
4George Foster2003231-20DEN010
5Cedric Ogbuehi2015231-21CIN050
6David DeCastro2012221-24PIT143
7Isaiah Wilson2020211-29TEN010
8Gabe Carimi2011231-29CHI122
9Derek Sherrod2011221-32GNB150
10Greg Little2019222-37CAR143
11Forrest Lamp2018242-38LAC020
12Menelik Watson2013252-42OAK153
13Cyrus Kouandjio2014212-44BUF010
14Adrian Klemm2000232-46NWE254
15Ben Ijalana2011222-49IND040
16Jacob Rogers2004232-52DAL020
17Ty Sambrailo2015232-59DEN233
18Bobbie Williams2001252-61PHI011
19Vlad Ducasse2010232-61NYJ020
20Charles Brown2010232-64NOR030

Provided by Stathead.com: View Stathead Tool Used
Generated 8/18/2021.

David DeCastro highlights a list that features miss after miss. Obviously, some of these players did not become what was hoped of them due to other issues. However, all of them were in the top two rounds because they had the talent that made them comparable to a Teven Jenkins.

Whether it was injuries, issues, or failing to catch up after missing so much time as a rookie, these guys were behind the curve and never caught up in a year or many years further.

No one is writing the career of Jenkins off yet, but you do not have a great historical precedent for a player who misses his first year due to injury then goes on to hit the following, or ongoing years.

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Fans and media may be starting to wonder why Teven Jenkins fell so far. It is fair that the Bears were so desperate for tackle play, and Jenkins fell far enough that the risk was worth it. At the same time, teams know that injuries like this have long and lingering effects, and expecting Jenkins to have a long and healthy career after this may be optimistic.