Chicago Bears GM Phil Emery has been roundly criticized for not addressing the team's offensive line last offseason. In his defense, Emery cited the signing of offensive tackle Jonathan Scott in Week 2.
"Did we go after some free agent offensive tackles? Absolutely," Emery said following Lovie Smith's firing. "The three best didn't play ball this year. They all retired. Two of them were medical and one decided not to play. Was I disappointed in that? Yes I was disappointed, but I wasn't disappointed in who we ended up with, with Jonathan Scott, who started six games for us."
Scott was drafted in the fifth round in 2006 by the Detroit Lions. He spent two years in Detroit, two in Buffalo and two in Pittsburgh. Following the 2011 campaign, the Steelers waived him. He re-signed with the Lions last offseason and spent training camp in Detroit, yet did not make the team. It was then that Emery swooped in and signed him.
T Jonathan Scott
At the ttime, Scott was acquired for depth, as Gabe Carimi was struggling and Chris Williams was pouting. Sure enough, the team cut Williams over the Week 6 bye, propelling Scotti into the swing tackle role. He stayed there until Week 11, when the Bears could no longer stomach Carimi's poor pass protection on the right edge. That pushed Scott into the starting role at right tackle, where he stayed the remainder of the season.
Most believe that, because Scott did better than Carimi, that he's a quality NFL tackle. Let's take a look at some numbers to see if that's truly the case.
According to Pro Football Focus, Scott played 341 snaps on offense last year. By comparison, left tackle J'Marcus Webb played all 1,071 offensive snaps in 2012. So Scott was on the field for roughly one third of the season. He only gave up one sack during that time, which is the reason most people are confident he can be the long-term answer.
Look deeper though and you see that Scott gave up five quarterback hits and 14 quarterback hurries last year. Extrapolate that over the entire season and Scott would have allowed roughly 42 hurries and 15 QB hits. By comparison, Webb allowed just 29 hurries and five QB hits last year. In fact, Scott's 42 hurries would have ranked fourth most in the league amongst offensive tackles in 2012, while his 15 hits would have been the most at his position.
And when you consider Jay Cutler, you realize that hurries are actually more harmful to Chicago's offense than sacks. With a sack, the team loses yardage and a down. Hurries force Cutler to throw off his back foot, into double coverage, which is typically a recipe for a turnover. So even though Scott did a good job limiting sacks, placing him on the right side for a full season would do nothing to limit the type of pressure that has plagued Cutler during his time in Chicago.
Scott was an upgrade over Carimi but the numbers show that he's not a long-term option. If the Bears are going to improve the edge protection, they must find another body to put on the right side. If Carimi eventually comes around, all the better, but until then Chicago must do better than Scott, who was nothing more than a stop-gap.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.