O-Line Trench Report: Week 2

In Week 2 of our BR Trench Report, we grade and analyze the Chicago Bears offensive linemen, as well as the ancillary blockers, on a snap-by-snap basis from Sunday’s victory over the 49ers.

The Chicago Bears pulled off an improbable victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night, a game in which the offense sputtered out of the gates, punting the ball on its first six drives.

Yet the offense did enough in the last 32 minutes of the game to score four touchdowns, resulting in a 28-3 run from which the 49ers could not recover.

Chicago’s offensive line had a very solid day in pass protection, allowing just one sack on quarterback Jay Cutler. San Francisco used a number of stunts up front, typically with two defenders crisscrossing at the line of scrimmage, with the first rusher attempting to clear out blockers and create room for the trailer. The Bears front five did a very nice job working as one unit against the 49ers' numerous up-front stunts.

Yet in the run game, the Bears blockers were horrible. Running back Matt Forte finished with just 21 yards on 12 carries, which was one of the main reasons the offense struggled for most of the first half.

We went to the film room and graded each of Chicago’s blockers from every snap in Week 2. Here are the final grades for the five offensive linemen:

Jermon Bushrod4-26
Michael Ola0-11
Brian de le Puente-2-53
Kyle Long4-15
Jordan Mills2-46
Team Totals8-1321

In Week 1, Chicago’s offensive line graded +32 overall, yet dropped to just +8 last week. It’s better to be in the positive than the negative but that’s a steep decline in production.

Much of that was the result of the run game, which could not get push up front against San Francisco’s stout 3-4 defense. The front five finished -13 overall blocking for Matt Forte, with every starting offensive lineman grading in the negative.

Pass protection was again solid in Week 2. After allowing the fourth fewest sacks in the league last season, the Bears’ offensive line has picked up right where it left off. Overall, the front five this season has graded a +48.

Left tackle Jermon Bushrod tied for the top overall grade at +4 and the top protection grade at +6. He missed a pair of blocks in the run game but allowed just one QB hurry and no sacks.

Mills was very good in protection, finishing with a team-high +6 as a pass blocker, and consistently kept 49ers OLB Ahmad Brooks out of the backfield. Yet Mills struggled mightily as a run blocker, grading -4 for the game. He was not explosive off the ball, showed little power and did almost nothing out in front of three Forte screen passes. His inability to maul on the right edge is one of the main reasons the Bears could not move the ball on the ground.

Mills wasn’t helped by right guard Kyle Long, who graded -1 as a run blocker. Long has accumulated negative grades in the rushing attack in each of the first two contests, the only Bears linemen to do so. He made up for it in pass protection, grading +5, but Long’s issues in the run game are concerning.

The two backups, center Brian de la Puente and left guard Michael Ola, did not fare as well as they did in Week 1.

Ola had the highest overall grade (+8) of the seven offensive linemen who played last week, yet he dropped to 0 this week. He’s not a mauler in any sense of the word and was manhandled by the 49ers’ powerful defensive tackles at the point of attack. He also struggled adjusting to San Francisco’s numerous stunts and blitzes. Ola has potential but he’s still inexperienced and inconsistent. Week 2 showed how much the loss of Matt Slauson hurt the team’s offensive line in terms of physicality off the ball.

Of Chicago’s front five, no one was worse as a run blocker than de la Puente, who finished with a team-low grade of -5. He was slow off the ball and appeared unsure of who to block on numerous occasions – which is surprising considering his considerable experience in Kromer’s system.

Here are the final grades for the team’s ancillary blockers:

Martellus Bennett-1-10
Matthew Mulligan-1-10
Dante Rosario-1-10
Matt Forte101
Brandon Marshall110
Alshon Jeffery220

Martellus Bennett and Dante Rosario saw very few blocking opportunities, although each had a bad missed block in the run game.

Matthew Mulligan played 12 snaps and did very little with them. He graded just -1 for the game but he was very ineffective overall, so it’s not surprising the team chose to cut him this week. Expect OL Eben Britton to take over the extra edge-blocking duties going forward.

Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, despite both playing on just one good leg, graded +3 combined as run blockers.

Here are the 2014 yearly grades for Chicago’s offensive linemen:

Jermon Bushrod11011
Matt Slauson312
Roberto Garza312
Kyle Long10-212
Jordan Mills5-49
Michael Ola817
Brian de le Puente0-55
Team Totals40-848

As you can see, this group has been outstanding in pass protection, giving up three total sacks and grading +48 overall.

Yet no offensive lineman grades higher than +1 as a run blocker, with four of the seven grading 0 or worse. With these grades in mind, it’s no wonder the team ranks 30th in the league in rushing. One-dimensional NFL clubs very rarely win championships, so Chicago’s front five must get the run-blocking issues shored up quickly.

The club’s two Pro Bowl blockers lead the group in overall grades – Bushrod at +11 and Long at +10. In pass protection, Long has a 1-point lead over Bushrod. Surprisingly, Mills ranks third on the team in pass protection at +9.

The only player at risk of dropping into the negative overall is de la Puente, who is straddling the Mendoza line at 0.

Here are the yearly totals for the team’s ancillary blockers.

Martellus Bennett-4-3-1
Matthew Mulligan312
Dante Rosario-10-1
Matt Forte404
Brandon Marshall330
Santonio Holmes01-1
Alshon Jeffery220

For reference, here are the full Week 1 totals:

Jermon Bushrod725
Matt Slauson312
Roberto Garza312
Kyle Long6-17
Jordan Mills303
Michael Ola826
Brian de le Puente202
Group Total32527
Martellus Bennett-3-2-1
Matthew Mulligan422
Dante Rosario01-1
Matt Forte303
Brandon Marshall220
Santonio Holmes01-1

Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fourth 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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