This year it’s all about Justin Fields for the Bears. GM Ryan Poles has made it clear that he and the rest of the organization won’t be able to fix everything that ails the team in one offseason, but the front office has made a concerted effort to give their QB the tools he needs to develop. To some extent, they succeeded. Fields has a legitimate VR1 in DJ Moore, and more importantly, he has a revamped offensive line in front of him.

Last season, Fields was sacked 55 times, which was tied for the NFL lead with Russell Wilson. So the team drafted Darnell Wright with their first-round pick to take over at right tackle and signed Nate Davis to take over at right guard. The Bears moved Taven Jenkins and Cody Whitehair to left guard and center to try to get their top five players on the line at the same time. The only man who has remained in the same spot since 2022 is Braxton Jones, who has steadily improved as the year has gone on.

There are reasonable questions about whether everything will come together with so many moving parts, but hopefully the two additions and two positional changes will elevate the unit’s play as a whole. There are also reasonable grounds for believing that things will work out. Wright is considered one of the most NFL-ready rookies in this year’s class. Davis has a reputation at right guard from his time at Tennessee. Whitehair also has a history of success at center with a Pro Bowl to his name at that position. Jenkins went through a position change last year and was arguably the most dominant player on the line when healthy. There’s no reason to believe he can’t adjust to switching sides, especially since he has experience playing on the left side in both the pros and college.

If things work out exactly as planned, that doesn’t mean things will be terrible all year long. In fact, Tuesday’s OTAs brought into sharp relief that the o-line is one of the team’s thinnest positions.

Davis did not attend optional OTAs on Tuesday, leaving the Bears with Ja’Tire Carter and Lucas Patrick to split the starting reps at right guard. This is Carter’s second NFL season, and he only played 31 snaps on offense last season. That’s about as inexperienced as it gets for someone who was considered a project player when he was drafted. Patrick was playing quarterback in 2022 when an injured hand prevented him from hitting the ball, and it was a disaster. According to PFF, Patrick was the second-least efficient back in pass protection among players with at least 100 snaps.

Both Jones and Wright were present in OTAs, but Davis’ absence also brought to mind the less encouraging options behind both tackles. The Bears have Larry Borrom, Alex Leatherwood and Kellen Dysch on the roster, but Borrom and Leatherwood struggled for limited playing time last year. Diescһ didn’t play at all last year, his rookie season. The Bears did not re-sign Riley Reiff or Michael Schofield, each of whom played reliable points all year.

It’s a reminder that while the Bears’ starting unit looks much improved, they’re only one injury away from an unproven or ineffective player going in. Offensive lines are usually only as strong as their weakest playerー and injuries at the OL are practically a givenー so that’s a scary proposition as things stand. But fans shouldn’t panic just yet. It’s still May, which gives players like Carter or Borromeo plenty of time to prove they’re either ready to take the next step in their development, or that last year was a fluke. If not, there is still plenty of time for the Poles to add to the group. The Poles signed both Schofield and Rife at the end of July last year, in time to take part in most training camps. The same could happen this year.

The Bears wrap up their first round of OTAs this Friday, then return for more on May 30.

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By Editor

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