One of the biggest priorities for the Chicago Bears this upcoming offseason is rebuilding the offensive line. Center Sam Mustipher should be a part of that new line.
In the midst of a six-game losing streak, the Chicago Bears‘ 2020 season is a lost cause. Yes, they still have a sliver of hope at making the playoffs, but they need to find a way to win out and receive help from other teams. The path to the playoffs is an unlikely one. With that being said, it’s time to look at what they need to do to improve the team.
Yes, the first thing the Bears must do is fix the front office and coaching staff. Once that’s done, though, whoever is in needs to fix the roster. They need to make some big decisions.
One of the biggest priorities has to be rebuilding the offensive line. The line was shaky at the start of the season, but injuries and the COVID virus shattered the unit. General manager Ryan Pace didn’t do enough to bolster the line. The struggles of the offensive line cannot continue to be ignored.
Cody Whitehair and James Daniels are locks to return. They’ve both played well and deserve to stay. One of the two tackles is sure to go. The Bears are in salary cap hell so they need to free up some space. If they let go of left tackle Charles Leno Jr they save $9 million. If they decide to part ways with right tackle Bobby Massie, the team saves $8 million. My bet is on Leno. While Massie hasn’t been the best at his position, he’s played better than Leno. Leno has basically been a turnstile, and that is a dangerous thing for whoever plays quarterback.
Who should be the center?
That leaves the center position. Whitehair started the season at center. However, he received some criticism for his ability to call the blocking schemes effectively. With him at center, there were too many times when defensive players got to the quarterback or the running back unblocked.
Some of that changed when Sam Mustipher took over the starting center job. Mustipher was an undrafted rookie free agent out of Notre Dame. He took over for Whitehair when he suffered a knee injury in Week 7 against the Los Angeles Rams. Then he started the Week 8 game against the New Orleans Saints. He played well but suffered an injury himself and had to miss games.
Mustipher came back in Week 12 against the Green Bay Packers. Despite the Bears losing the game, he did a good job. The linemen blocked better with him and the result was David Montgomery‘s first 100-yard game of the season.
The next week the Bears’ running game gained 140 yards, the second-most number of rushing yards this season.
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IN the three games Mustipher started, he’s taken control of the line. The blocking is better with him as the center. The quarterback has had a clean pocket for the most part, allowing for some big pass plays. Additionally, the running game is greatly improved. Heading into the Week 13 matchup against the Detroit Lions, the Bears averaged just 82 rushing yards per game. In the three games with Mustipher, though, the running game averages 119 yards per game and has a great 5.1 yards per run.
Mustipher has to be in the mix for the starting center next season. He isn’t a big name and not a flash player, but he does a very good job of doing what needs to be done. He shows great technique when making seal blocks, opening up bigger holes for Montgomery and the other running backs. Also, he’s done a good job of keeping defenders off the quarterback. He has yet to allow any pressure this season. Let’s not forget his snaps. He’s been on point with all his snaps, something that has haunted Whitehair at times.
Mustipher showed that he’s capable of being a starting-caliber center in the NFL. Whoever takes over would do well by giving him the shot he deserves. He isn’t a big name but he is someone who just gets the job done.