The Chicago Bears could be better.
Right, right, that’s obvious. Like Geico’s slogan, everyone already knows that. So let me say it this way: They could be better today, like, at this very instant, like, by the time you finish reading this sentence it could have already happened.
Because all it requires are four words from Marc Trestman:
“Hey, Eben, you’re starting.”
Actually, the correct question is Who?
Eben Britton. He’s the Bears’ backup right tackle. The 39th overall pick in the 2009 draft, he started 15 games for the Jacksonville Jaguars as a rookie. Then he injured his shoulder and his back and his ankle, and four years later, as a no-name free agent, he barely squeaked onto the Bears roster.
But since the Bears started using him as a sixth lineman Week 4 to slow down the Detroit Lions pass rush, he has had the type of positive impact on the offense that may leave you distrusting the numbers. Ready for it? According to the NFL Game Statistics and Information System, the 52 times he’s been on the field, the Bears have averaged 10.7 yards per play. The other 361 plays? Just 5.4.
Now, check out the GIF to the right to see those numbers in action.
Granted, the Bears had their reasons for assigning him second fiddle back in September, but it’s time to reassess that decision. And it’s not just because Britton might be kind of OK. It’s also because the other guy—starting right tackle Jordan Mills—definitely isn’t.
To the right you can see some of Mills’ work against the Washington Redskins.
It's just one play, but it represents an ongoing problem.
Fact: Since a solid Week 1 showing, Mills has been the Bears’ worst offensive lineman. Is it a close margin, though? Hmm, about as close as Naperville and Nepal.
Check out his production compared to his fellow linemen. (Note that there are 73 eligible offensive tackles in the league, 72 eligible guards and 32 eligible centers.)
|Pro Football Focus Offensive Line Individual Rankings|
|Overall Ranking||Pass Block Ranking||Run Block Ranking||QB Pressures Allowed|
|Source: Pro Football Focus|
Mills is a rookie, and he was drafted all the way in the fifth round. Most teams are looking for quality backups that late in the draft. And that’s probably what the Bears got.
If the Bears are still serious about winning, Marc Trestman needs to swallow its pride, admit that Mills wasn’t ready to be a full-time starter and insert Britton into the starting lineup.
McCown would thank him. Forte would thank him. Bears fans would give him a high five.
So, what do you say, Marc? Four words. Are you ready to say them?