Lucas Patrick really does seem like a great teammate. I'm sure he is a positive asset to the locker room. Unfortunately, that doesn't change the fact that the team would have been better off if they left him there and just, like, joined him after the game was over this year. His best play of the season came when he saved a touchdown after running down a missed field goal return against Atlanta. To put it bluntly, the Lucas Patrick experience needs to end. So does the Cody Whitehair (God bless his soul) experiment, for that matter. The Bears need to stop searching for a patch for their center issue, and they need to find a solution to it.
If the Bears are committed to solving their interior protection issues, they could find their answer in Andre James. The 26-year-old may not be a household name (which might allow them to sign him to a relatively cheap deal), but he has been a dependable starter in the middle of the Raiders offensive line since taking over the starting position in 2021. He has played 98 percent of the team's offensive snaps over that period and has steadily improved throughout his tenure there.
While Pro Football Focus (PFF) grades may be thoroughly flawed, they are usually the best way to grade offensive line play. James finished with a 74.6 PFF grade, a 12-point jump from the previous year. To put that into perspective, Whitehair's grade sat at a lowly 45.0, while Patrick's was only slightly better at 50.5. That seems.. significant.
Figuring out what to do at quarterback may be the most important goal this offseason, but their decision won't really matter if the team doesn't make a concerted effort to improve the interior. There is reason to believe James' best football is ahead of him, and he would be a wise pickup if the Bears want to shore up the position ahead of the draft.