Originally posted on Sports Mockery  |  Last updated 4/11/14
Chicago Bears Football - With Phil Emery’s recent addition of a center, the Chicago Bears O-Line competition will be hot come training camp time. Their line depth is absolutely incredible, sporting some of the NFL’s best. An old football adage states that ‘offense wins games but defense wins championships‘, when in all actuality, it is the most underrated group of guys that win both: the offensive line. Current O-Line Depth Chart   The big boys fighting down in the trenches, snap for snap, game for game, are the guys that keep the offense on the field and the defense fresh. These are the guys that open running lanes for rushers and give the quarterback time to throw those hail marys down the field. Without the offensive line, the team is nothing. Roberto Garza (center, captain, aged veteran) leads the score of big uglies who started last season; Matt Slauson (G), Pro Bowler Kyle Long (G), All-Fundamentals teamer Jermon Bushrod (T) and second-year starter Jordan Mills started alongside him. Now it gets interesting. Backing up those players (for now) are Brian de la Puente (C), Taylor Boggs (C), Eben Britton (G), Rogers Gaines (T), Joe Long (T), and James Brown (T). Chicago Bears 2014 Preseason Schedule Announced   Will Garza remain starting center? Roberto Garza is one of very few players on the Bears squad that was a starter for the last Super Bowl appearance. He was a driving force for the offense last season, helping the team go from one of the worst offenses to second best. Of course, the system used by Chicago in 2013 was much easier to block for than in years prior. The Trestman offense features a quick-trigger passing game designed to get the ball out quickly. However, de la Puente is not going to ride the bench with occasional looks as a back-up guard/center. De la Puente was a undrafted player who, after a good college career as a California Golden Bear, went undrafted and bounced around with seven teams from 2008-2013. Don’t let that tidbit fool you, when de la Puente landed with the New Orleans Saints under the tutoring of Aaron Kromer, he went from being a practice squad player to starter and was ranked fifth last season amongst centers. Garza, aging and the smaller of the two, was only ranked 28th in the NFL. It is unrealistic to think that de la Puente will ride the bench. Kyle Long shifts to tackle? With two veteran inside guys competing for the position above, speculations arise that Chicago favorite Kyle Long may move to offensive tackle. Two problems arise. The first being Jordan Mills. Mills wasn’t the rookie that went to the Pro Bowl in Hawaii. Long had a lot of help from Garza and a very good system. At the 2014 Pro Bowl, Kyle Long did not look very good. Jordan Mills may have actually been the better of the two. He had to stop edge rushers and pick up blitzing outside linebackers. He fought off Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs. Long stood in the way of three-technique guys amd that in a bang-bang passing game. The second problem is that you have a great combination on the right side with Long and Mills. They play extremely well side-by-side. It is rare to see two rookies on an NFL offensive line and downright unheard of to see both starting on the same side. Yet, Long and Mills did it all year and did it well. Some have said Long’s arms are too short. Well, Jordan Mills has 34 inch arms and Kyle Long 33 3/8 inch guns. So much for those unfounded musings. Kyle Long Offers To Protect Kid From Bullies   Matt Slauson and Jermon Bushrod are staying put Matt Slauson was snubbed in Pro Bowl voting. Slauson worked inside in pass protection so Garza could constantly shift toward the rookies just in case last season. Slauson did that without skipping a beat and that whilst taking on some of the nastiest nose tackles in the NFL. Jermon Bushrod, the blind side tackle, faltered slightly at the beginning of the season but hung in strong and kept his form and had a complete turnaround after week four. His election to the All-Fundamentals team tells a side story about what kind of work ethic Bushrod has and what kind of player he is. And his selfies are awesome. Back-Ups Will Be Important An NFL team generally suits up seven offensive linemen and a long-snapper on game day. Last season, numbers six and seven were generally Eben Britton and James Brown. Eben Britton was also just re-signed, bringing a sigh of relief to many knowledgeable Bears fans. Britton was widely used in the new offense, often lining up as an eligible receiver to fool defenses or add pass-blocking prowess or even to assist in the run game. Britton is a young, dynamic blocker who can play guard or tackle and a guy who could step up in to a starting role soon. James Brown, a tackle, is also very young and has great potential. He was called upon a few times to fill in for Bushrod or Mills and filled the role without major mistakes. Can Boggs and Gaines Cut It? The guys who didn’t play much after the season started were backup center Taylor Boggs and tackle Rogers Gaines. Gaines is only a second-year player and seemed mesmerized by the talent blowing by him in preseason play, still, he is developing under one of the best offensive line coaches in the game. Boggs is a different story, he is underweight for a lineman at 285 pounds and that weight may have been taken after he crawled out of the pool fully clothed. Still, the story behind Taylor Boggs’ rise to the NFL roster is a story of overcoming and never giving up. Mock It! To be perfectly honest, barring Jordan Mills being traded for better draft seating, which would default Kyle Long to right tackle and Garza or de la Puente to guard and the other to center, I doubt Roberto Garza will be a starter on the 2014 Chicago Bears roster. Even before de la Puente was signed, I gave insight as to what the Bears might draft including a center. Garza served the team well and can still be a contributor, but his advancing age in a position that sees extreme wear-and-tear on the body is going to catch up to him very soon, possibly this season or next season. Roberto will be remembered as one of the best Chicago Bears linemen for years to come, regardless of whether he reclaims the starting role this year again or not. He will be a hard player to replace even considering the competition he is facing, both on the field and in the locker room. Still, I don’t count him out completely. Garza’s experience and knowledge, as well as his physical power and large frame, make him a strong competitor. This preseason will surely feature a hot competition for the starting offensive line roles.   Photo: ChicagoFootball Author informationDamien GreenwellFeatured Columnist at Sports MockeryWelcome to Sports Mockery, the best Chicago sports news site you're going to find in my opinion.TwitterFacebookGoogle+The post Chicago Bears O-Line Competition Will Be Hot appeared first on Sports Mockery.
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