The Chicago Bears need to protect Bagent against elite pass rushers
Over the first six weeks of the season, the Bears allowed 25 total sacks on offense. This past Sunday with Tyson Bagent at the helm, that number dropped to a season-low of two, and fans and analysts alike are arguing whether that is an indication of an improvement of the offensive line or if it displays how Bagent is a quicker decision-maker than Fields.
No matter the reasoning, the Bears as an offense will have to continue to improve this weekend against a defensive line that boasts great edge rushers in Joey Bosa and former Chicago Bear Khalil Mack, as well as defensive tackle Morgan Fox, who's five sacks on the year puts him in the top 20 across the league. Fortunately, it seems that Chicago's offensive line is improving, both due to the development of younger players as well as getting healthier as a unit and Sunday night provides another good opportunity for the group to put their stamp on the game.
The most impressive lineman throughout the year and certainly after last week is probably rookie Darnell Wright, who has manned the right side of the line in a truly professional sense. Against the Raiders, Wright was clearly not 100% health-wise but was able to hold his own against one of the league's best in Maxx Crosby. At times throughout the game, especially during the second half, Wright was even able to block Crosby using just one arm, and with another week to heal, the Tennessee product will be a big factor in the offense and will help keep Bagent upright in just his second career start.
Outside of Wright, who is starting to look like a draft steal for the Bears, the offensive line has a number of quality players, including Teven Jenkins, who seems to be fully healthy and completely comfortable at his guard position. Having Wright and Jenkins gives the Bears' offensive line a unique toughness, and to move the ball against the Chargers, it will be important for these two to win blocks one-on-one, allowing other players across the line opportunities to work with doubles teams or chips from the running backs and tight ends.
Likely, the Chargers will target the left side of the line, which is currently manned by swing tackle Larry Borom, who is filling in for Braxton Jones, who remains on injury reserve. Borom has shown flashes throughout the first couple years of his promising career, but it will be essential for the Bears offense to look for unique ways to help him in pass protection, especially when lined up against Mack. Throughout the early parts of the season, Mack has accrued seven sacks, six of which came against the Las Vegas Raiders, the franchise that drafted him with the fifth overall pick in 2014.
Sunday will serve as Mack's second revenge game of the season after the Bears traded the edge rusher to the Chargers for picks that eventually turned into starting safety Jaquan Brisker. The Raiders did not seem too particularly worried about Mack, and even refused to change their protections throughout his career day, but if revenge is any factor for the perennial All-Pro pass rusher, the Bears' offensive line may be in for a long day against one of the league's best.