The offense of the Chicago Bears was hindered last season by a banged up offensive line that underperformed almost across the board.
Kyle Long was the only consistent contributor in 2014, earning his second trip to the Pro Bowl in as many NFL seasons. Beyond that, it was little more than injuries and poor play.
With a brand new coaching staff in place, it’s impossible to predict the starting front five for the 2015 regular season opener.
Long could shift from guard to tackle, which could force Matt Slauson to move from left guard to right guard. If Long stays put, the team may target an early-round left-tackle prospect in this year’s draft, which would slide Jermon Bushrod from the left edge to the right edge. Will Montgomery is slated to start at center but if the Bears invest in a young pivot player in the draft, he’ll have to earn the starting gig.
Let’s break down All-22 coaches film from last year to get a better feel for Ducasse’s skill set, as well as his potential impact in Chicago in 2015.
This will be a screen pass to the right side. At the snap, Ducasse (blue) will hold up the nose tackle for a half second before clearing to the right flat.
He’s not fast enough to get in front of the boundary corner but Ducasse is able to reroute the defender and cut off his angle of pursuit.
Vikings RB Jerick McKinnon breaks the initial tackle attempt. Ducasse will then turn and head up field to lead block.
He’s able to clip the safety, giving McKinnon a nice cutback lane for an extra five yards.
Analysis: Ducasse is a wide body (6-5, 325) but he moves very well for his size. He gets out of his stance and moving quickly. On this play, he’s fast to the flat and forces the cornerback to take a wide angle of pursuit, which helps set up a broken tackle by the running back. Ducasse then shows good awareness by immediately getting his head around and finding a defender to block.
This will be a sweep right. Ducasse (blue) will pull down the line and serve as the first-wave lead blocker.
The right tackle allows penetration, which forces Ducasse off his pull line. He’s able to quickly maneuver the obstacle without sacrificing momentum.
Ducasse clears all the way to the far edge of the field and leads the play with a strong kick-out block.
Analysis: Here again we see great movement for a player of Ducasse’s size. He shows light feet and very good balance. Once again, he’s able to target and lock on to a defender at the second level.
This is an A-gap run behind Ducasse, who is tasked with blocking the middle linebacker.
Ducasse lunges at LB A.J. Hawk, who easily sidesteps the block attempt.
Ducasse is on all fours blocking no one as Hawk makes the tackle for no gain.
Analysis: This was a very poor effort by Ducasse. He gets to the second level immediately but he never sinks his hips or widens his base. As he reaches Hawk, he bends at the waist, allowing the linebacker to easily swim past him and into the hole.
This will be another A-gap dive behind Ducasse (blue).
The defender immediately gains leverage by keeping his pads lower than Ducasse, who is already off balance.
The defensive tackle uses both hands and literally throws Ducasse aside before making the tackle.
Analysis: On this snap, Ducasse comes far too high out of his snap, which makes it easy for the defender to win the pad-level battle. The defensive tackle then tosses a 325-pound offensive lineman aside like a rag doll. Obviously, Ducasse lacks ideal upper-body strength.
This will be a one-on-one block in pass protection.
DT Letroy Guion rushes inside at the snap. Notice Ducasse is already off balance and must slide hard to his left to recover.
As Ducasse shifts left, Guion spins back right and picks up the easy sack.
Analysis: This play was bad from the start, as Ducasse was out of position almost immediately. It’s as if he was predicting an outside rush but got an inside slant move instead. As he tries to recover, his momentum takes him past the Guion, whose spin move leaves Ducasse looking silly.
Ducasse will again be one-on-one with Guion.
After the initial contact, Ducasse is driven deep into the backfield.
Ducasse is pushed backward right into the quarterback’s face, which results in Guion’s second sack of the game.
Analysis: Balance issues and poor technique once again result in Christian Ponder on the turf. Ducasse comes off the ball far too high and does not have the lower or upper body strength to muscle his way to recovery.
Ducasse played 415 snaps last year, allowing four sacks and nine QB hurries. That equates to roughly 10 sacks and 20 QB hurries over a full season, which isn’t starter-level production.
He can move very well for a player of his size, which is very likely the reason the Bears signed him. With a 6-5, 325-pound frame and his ability to work laterally down the line of scrimmage, Ducasse could have success in a zone-heavy system like that of coordinator Adam Gase.
But in terms of talent and fundamentals, Ducasse is lacking. He shows little strength and horrible pad level, while his lapses in technique lead to balance problems and ugly missed blocks.
He’s only 27 and has a solid combination of size and quickness. If Bears offensive line coach Dave Magazu can make the most of those talents, Ducasse has a great opportunity to stick as the club’s swing guard.
Unfortunately for the Bears, he is not reliable enough to be a full-time starter, meaning there’s more work to be done this offseason to substantially improve the front five.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fifth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter.