LAKE FOREST, Ill. — The Bears had high hopes for their revamped offensive line entering training camp. The injury to Teven Jenkins forced them to shuffle things up, and a group of five that took zero snaps together in the preseason predictably struggled in the season-opening faceplant against the Green Bay Packers.
The numbers weren’t pretty.
The Bears’ offensive line gave up 25 pressures, including nine from right guard Nate Davis, per Pro Football Focus. Rookie right tackle Darnell Wright, center Lucas Patrick, and left guard Cody Whitehair each surrendered five pressures. Left tackle Braxton Jones only gave up one pressure.
The Bears also struggled to run the ball against the Packers, with the non-Justin Fields Bears rushing for 63 yards on 20 carries.
Those numbers can’t repeat themselves Sunday when the Bears travel to Tampa Bay to face the Buccaneers and a defensive front that includes star edge rusher Shaq Barrett and nose tackle Vita Vea.
The struggles of Davis, who didn’t show up to the first two weeks of OTAs and missed most of training camp with an injury, should be viewed as a big red flag going forward. The Bears gave Davis a three-year, $33 million contract in the offseason despite a history of pass protection issues. Those issues popped up during the season-opening loss to the Packers.
“Me and Nate spent some time together,” Bears offensive line coach Chris Morgan said Thursday at Halas Hall. “We’ve all got things to work on. He’s really excited to get better. The more he plays and the more these guys play together, all of them, the better they get.”
When asked to evaluate Davis’ play vs. the Packers, Morgan flew by the question with an answer that was telling.
“We all can get better. All of us. We have a lot of work to do,” Morgan said.
Wright is the other piece of the equation of a right side that struggled against the Packers. While the first-round pick was good in the run game, he had his hands full with Packers edge rusher Rashan Gary. Gary had five pressures in 10 pass-rush snaps against the Bears.
“It’s good for Darnell to face anybody right now. He played seven snaps in the preseason,” Morgan said. “Just the more he plays, the better he’s going to get. Really, that’s for all of us. I’m excited.”
As he did with Davis, Morgan’s evaluation of the “teaching tape” for Wright painted a picture of where the Bears’ offensive line stands entering Week 2.
“A lot, you know what I mean?” Morgan said when asked what the coaching points were Wright after Week 1. “That’s for all of us. Not just for him. Anywhere from scheme, to where you are putting your eyes, to technique, to the guy he is going against, the situational football – where it’s at in the game, you know, red zone, short yardage. Ton of teaching ops.”
As for Patrick, the Bears’ center graded out as the No. 31 center in Week 1, per PFF. After struggling last year at guard, the hope was that Patrick would perform better at his preferred position. Nothing against the Packers would indicate that’s going to be the case.
With Jenkins out until at least Week 5, the Bears need this group of five to gel quickly and, at the very least, perform better in the run game and go from liability to mediocre in pass protection.
If marked improvement doesn’t show up Sunday in Florida, the Bears likely will leave Tampa 0-2.