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Let me start by saying the Bears became a better team by adding Bushrod. That's not the debate, but there was more that they could have done with that money.
This was by far the most debated signing, but the fact of the matter is that if Bushrod is an upgrade over J'Marcus Webb, he isn't a major one.
The PFF numbers support Webb as a better pass-blocker, although slightly worse overall. While some like to say Webb got more help, film review proves that to be mostly a myth.
I took a look at the tape of both teams games against the Green Bay Packers on NFL Game Rewind.
During their matchups with Clay Matthews and Co., the Bears used extra blockers to help Webb on 20.3 percent of their dropbacks. A relatively high number, but the Saints helped Bushrod out on 24.1 of their passing attempts against the Packers.
That is a small sample size, but it proves that Bushrod wasn't always on an island like many believe. The Saints did a lot of chipping to help their tackles out, including some creative play designs that the Bears could be using this season.
According to PFF, Webb did allow three more sacks but the Bears threw deep on a higher percentage of their passes, giving defenders more time to get to the quarterback. Jay Cutler threw beyond 20 yards on 15.9 percent of his snaps, compared to Drew Brees, who threw deep on 11.9 percent of his.
The argument that playing on turf hurt Bushrod fails when compared to Detroit's Jeff Backus, who gave up 15 fewer hurries and only one sack—according to PFF—despite playing against Matthews, Jared Allen and Julius Peppers six times.
It's common to argue the numbers and claim they don't tell the story, but scouts tend to agree with them in this case.
Heading into free agency, Scouts Inc. gave Bushrod a 76 for a grade, one point higher than they had Webb prior to the season—unquestionably his best with the Bears.
The Bleacher Report's Matt Miller didn't rank them far apart either, listing Webb as his 28th best left tackle and ranking Bushrod 25th.
There's no doubt the Bears needed a tackle, but they didn't necessarily need it to be a left tackle. Is there any actual evidence that you need a great left tackle to win a Super Bowl? Baltimore's Bryant McKinnie was ranked 25th on PFF amongst left tackle with 10 or more games played this past season. The year before the Giants won the Super Bowl with David Diehl being rated as the worst linemen in the league on PFF.
The Bears' plan is to move Webb to right tackle, but there's no guarantee that will work. They could've signed a proven right tackle for less money and kept with Webb on the left side.
The money saved with that plan could have helped the Bears to bring back Brian Urlacher or sign a guard like Geoff Schwartz, who went to Kansas City for a bargain price.
The Bears didn't just need a tackle, they needed a tackle, a center and at least one guard. Now they're left with more holes to fill and little money or draft picks to fill them.