BR Trench Report: Week 4

We continue our BR Trench Report, grading out each and every blocker from last week's loss to the Detroit Lions. With one quarter of the season in the books, trends are beginning to emerge.

In last week's 40-32 loss to the Detroit Lions, the offensive line of the Chicago Bears struggled. The group allowed three sacks, the most of any single game this year, as well as 22 quarterback hurries, according to Pro Football Focus.

We emerge from the film room after grading the performance of each blocker from every snap in Week 4. Here are our final grades.

Week 4 vs. Lions   
Jermon Bushrod615
Matt Slauson12-315
Roberto Garza202
Kyle Long0-55
Jordan Mills01-1

For reference, here are the grades from the first three weeks.

Week 1 vs. Bengals   
Jermon Bushrod4-26
Matt Slauson19811
Roberto Garza826
Kyle Long716
Jordan Mills18414

Week 2 vs. Vikings   
Jermon Bushrod16214
Matt Slauson18315
Roberto Garza22418
Kyle Long927
Jordan Mills8-210

Week 3 vs. Steelers   
Jermon Bushrod321
Matt Slauson844
Roberto Garza431
Kyle Long826
Jordan Mills-2-20

For the second straight week, Jordan Mills graded worst overall (0). His pass protection (-1) was again the worst on the team. After bursting out of the gates with a combined +24 in protection the first two weeks of the season, Mills has a combined -1 pass blocking grade the past two weeks. That is considerable regression and something on which he must improve going forward.

Fellow rookie Kyle Long also finished with a 0 overall grade, struggling mightily as a run blocker. He did have the second highest pass block grade but as a guard, he needs to start mauling in the run game. Outside of two big runs – both of which were misdirection plays that fooled the defense – the front five got little push in the run game against Detroit. If Long can't get guys moved out of the hole, Chicago's rushing attack will never flourish.

Jermon Bushrod gave up five pressures, which is far too many for a two-time Pro Bowler. His biggest issue is a lack of power. Hard jabs by opposing linemen rock Bushrod to his heels and against the bull rush, he looks like he's on roller skates. Yet he also had a lot of very solid blocks against the Lions, using very good footwork and technique to adjust to double moves. He's not perfect on the blindside but he gets the job done more often than not.

Roberto Garza had his worst outing of the season, although he didn't make any huge mistakes. The Lions used a lot of cross stunts along the defensive line, which left Garza with no one to block on most plays.

And for the fourth straight week, Matt Slauson is Chicago's best performer up front. He was ridiculously solid in pass protection and absolutely dominated in 1-on-1 situations. He also showed great awareness and chemistry with Bushrod in dealing with the numerous cross stunts. Slauson did struggle in the run game though (-3). Combined, Slauson and Long graded -8 as run blockers this week, which just won't cut it going forward.

In Week 4, the offensive line had its worst collective grade (20) of the entire season. Much of that had to do with numerous missed blocks in the run game. This is surprising, as the group had been pretty consistent as run blockers the first three weeks, grading 13, 9 and 9 respectively. The pass blocking this week improved 14 points from Week 3 but it's still not at the level it was in the first two contests.

Here are the year-to-date grades for the offensive line:

Jermon Bushrod29326
Matt Slauson571245
Roberto Garza36927
Kyle Long24024
Jordan Mills24123

Bushrod no longer resides in the basement, where he spent the first three weeks of the season. That spot is now occupied by both of the rookies, who have nearly identical numbers to this point. Long and Mills have graded the worst in both the run and pass games. This is to be expected considering their lack of experience but the fact they've gone downhill the past two weeks is concerning.

Slauson leads the team in every category and has been a rock at left guard. He graded in the negative this week against the run but other than that, Slauson has been outstanding. And Garza, while unspectacular, has been solid at the pivot, grading second highest in each category.

Here are the secondary grades from Week 4:

OverallRun [Snaps]Pass [Snaps]
Martellus Bennett01 (11)-1 [2]
Tony Fiammetta-1-1 [8]0 [0]
Matt Forte00 [12]0 [0]
Eben Britton31 [6]2 [5]

Martellus Bennett graded -6 last week but he improved against the Lions (0). The shoulder injury appeared to bother him less. Fiammetta bounced back in Week 3 but he graded -1 against Detroit, giving him three negative overall scores in four weeks. He just cannot deliver blocks that clear lanes. The Bears used Britton for 11 snaps as the third offensive tackle and he graded in the positive in every category. Don't be surprised if Britton continues to get a handful of snaps each game.

Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his third season covering the Chicago Bears full time. 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.

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