Bears vs Bengals: Grading the OL

Because of time constraints this is a breakdown of the Bears 1st quarter and the 3rd quarter TD drive with some observations and discussion of the differences that I saw. Overall I came away very impressed with how the line played and more importantly how they improved as the game went on.

1st QuarterPlay 1: Play Action Pass [Bennett Drop]

Bushrod [-]: Double down in the play action fake, but both come off late and give up a needless hit. Looked like a miscommunication.Slauson [-]: Double down in the play action fake, but both come off late and give up a needless hit. Looked like a miscommunication.

Garza [+]: Good hand use and maintains the line of scrimmage.

Long [+]: Pulls and picks up Michael Johnson with a physical block.

Mills [+]: Good hand punch by Mills and body is in good position, but gets pushed late.

Play 2: Draw [8 Yards]

Bushrod [+]: Good body position forces Michael Johnson up the field and keeps him out of the play.

Slauson [/]: Benched to the ground by Atkins, but covers him up and engages him long enough that Forte gets by Atkins, ugly but effective.

Garza [+]: Engages Peko and keeps him out of the play.

Long [+]: Does not have someone to take but executes a nice fake.

Mills [+]: Engages Dunlap and keeps him from the play.

Play 3: Pass [Incomplete/Blitz]

Bushrod [++]: Excellent body position takes away the outside and Michael Johnson gives up and hand fights.

Slauson [++]: Excellent job shutting down Atkins using his length to punch him before Atkins can really get going.

Garza [/]: Stops Peko but should have gotten Long off to the blitz.

Long [–]: Misses blitz while doubling down and gives up a pressure and a hit.

Mills [++]: Forces and absorbs a big James Harrison bull rush, sits him down and wins the reps, great base.

Play 4: Shotgun Run [8 Yards]

Bushrod [+]: Pass fakes Michael Johnson up field and keeps him out of the play. Not dominant, but did what he needs to do.

Slauson [++]: Great double team on the NT opens the hole and covers up the LB driving him down 8 yards back and ends up ahead of Forte which is awesome.

Garza [++]: Big double opens the hole and wheels on Peko keeping him out of the play.

Long [+]: Wheels on Geno Atkins and keeps him out of the play showing great power.

Mills [+]: Nice pull and gets through the hole quickly and makes solid contact with Harrison, but stops his feet and falls, ugly but gets the job done.

Play 5: Slant Pass/Called Run that Jay Pulls [4 Yards]

Bushrod [+]: No penetration and pass gets off clean.Slauson [+]: No penetration and pass gets off clean.

Garza [+]: No penetration and pass gets off clean.

Long [+]: No penetration and pass gets off clean.

Mills [+]: No penetration and pass gets off clean.

Play 6: Screen [Incomplete]

Bushrod [+]: Solid job moving the DE up field and not allowing him off into the play.Slauson [++]: Really nice job getting Atkins upfield and then covering up the LB.

Garza [++]: Impressed with how he gets off and covers up the LB

Long [/]: Releases, but runs into Forte.

Mills [+]: Gets Dunlap upfield without giving up pressure.

*Forte needs to make his way around the OG as he comes in from WR, but an incredibly cool formation having Forte come in from the WR bunch.

Play 7: Run [-4 Yards]

Bushrod [+]: Gets to the 2nd level quickly and shuts the LB down after taking a shot initially.

Slauson [+]: Michael Johnson jumps inside and Slauson does a nice job of covering up a much faster defender.

Garza [–]: Gets dominated with a swim move by Peko and destroys the play.

Long [-]: Atkins gets extension on him and Long never has control of the block.

Mills [+]: Forces Dunlap wide of the play but could finish better with more physicality.

Play 8: Pass [Incomplete Pass]

Bushrod [+]: Works Johnson up field, but goes down on the late counter move. Not pretty but a solid pass block and Johnson ends up wide of the pocket.

Slauson [-]: Beaten inside by Atkins with poor footwork, but does not give up a sack or hit.

Garza [-]: Does not get involved in the protection and should have helped Slauson on the play.

Long [++]: Absorbs the bull rush and finishes the play in a good position.

Mills [++]: Forces the bull rush and then sits it down, locks hands on and does not allow a 2nd move.

Play 9: Pass  [18 Yards]

Bushrod [+]: Picks up the Reggie Nelson blitz.

Slauson [+]: Slides and picks up Michael Johnson coming inside, not great body position, but finishes the block.

Garza [+]: Slides the protection to the double A gap but the blitz bails, but appears to be the right call for the quick pass. Late pancake on Atkins.

Long [+]: Slides and takes the NT and allows Garza to pick up the blitz that bailed.

Mills [+]: Slides down and collapses the DT.

Play 10: Run [4 Yards]

Bushrod [+]: Nice double and gets to the 2nd level where he harasses the LB, but needs to finish better.

Slauson [+]: Double teams and holds the DT inside, but needs to finish better.

Garza [+]: Wheels Peko out of the play.

Long [+]: Gets to the 2nd level quickly and pops Harrison making him a non factor, but does not finish and needs to lock onto the LB and wheel his hips to keep him in place.

Mills [+]: Wheels Dunlap up field and keeps him from the play.

Play 11: Pass [TD Catch]

Bushrod [/]: Poor footwork gives Johnson the edge and he has his hands slapped down and would have given up a hit on a longer drop or throw.

Slauson [+]: Nice hand punch and he is a big powerful man as he stuns Peko and holds him at the line.

Garza [+]: Good help and more active in supporting against Atkins.

Long [+]: Atkins gets up the field a little, but Long extends his arms and has incredible strength to ride Atkins by the pocket.

Mills [++]: Exceptional body position, lands his punch and Dunlap stops rushing and watches the play.

Play 12: Pass WR Screen [-7 Yards]

Bushrod [/]: Misses cut, but distracts the defender.

Slauson [+]: Does not give up penetration.

Garza [+]: Does not give up penetration.

Long [+]: Does not give up penetration.

Mills [+]: Does not give up penetration.

*Bennett with a terrible block.

Play 13: Slant Pass/Called Run that Jay Pulls [4 Yards]

Bushrod [+]: Good body position and violent hands absorbs a push and gives no ground.

Slauson [+]: Good use of his long arms against a slower and less dynamic rusher.

Garza [+]: Gives help.

Long [+]: Mediocre footwork allows Stills upfield a little were he swats the pass. Long is still in control of the block but needs to kick his outside foot to not allow penetration.

Mills [+]: Nice kick slide and again forces the DE into his body and absorbs him and shuts him down. I am impressed with Mills core strength as he does not get pushed back.

Play 14: Pass to Forte [10 Yards]

Bushrod [+]:

Slauson [++]: Physically passes the twist and picks up the looper.

Garza [++]: Gets involved on the stunt and takes over the DT stunting.

Long [+]: Physically pushes the twister off, but needs to discipline his feet and stay low.

Mills [+]: Absorbs the bull rush, but uses his facemask which allows Dunlap to slip off. But Mills has exceptional hand use and controls Dunlap despite the poor technique.

Play 15: Run [-1 Yards]

Bushrod [-]: Forces Johnson wide, but allows him off and he flows to the play. Bushrod needs better body position and to run his feet,Slauson [+]: Gets to the 2nd level and pops Harrison.

Garza [+]: Takes the NT and wheels and cuts him.

Long [-]: Doubles down, but allows Atkins off late.

Mills [-]: Comes down on the double team, but does not finish on the LB and allows him to get to the play.

*Bennett gets walked into the backfield.

Play 16: Run [No Gain]

Bushrod [+]: Nice pull and arrives at James Harrison with violence.

Slauson [-]: Gets to the 2nd level, but is late and he does not have a strong base and ends up getting clipped to the ground. Misses Mualaga who makes the play.

Garza [+]: Gets the NT off balance.

Long [/]: Gets to the 2nd level quickly, but he does not make the block and his feet get close together and he cannot react and move.

Mills [/]: Does not really make the backside cut off, although he does affect the DT long enough that he does not get involved in the play.

*Marshall has a dominant block on the play, but asking Jeffery to block Harrison is pointless.

Play 17: Pass [15 Yards]

Bushrod [+]: Ugly block where he gets spun around on the twist, but he sits down and anchors and does not allow Atkins to influence the QB. This is more Slauson’s fault who needs to not allow Atkins to blow up Bushrod.

Slauson [+]: Needs a stronger punch on Atkins to not allow him to get to Bushrod’s shoulder. But very disciplined and gets Johnson picked up on the twist.

Garza [++]: Power step and inside punch ends the rep on the line, once he is locked on the rep was over.

Long [++]: Exceptional arm extension allows him to shut down the inside move and controls the entire rep.

Play 18: Pass/ Zone Blitz [6 Yards]

Bushrod [+]: DE drops and Bushrod stays disciplined and gets Atkins looping outside.

Slauson [++]: Passes Atkins to Bushrod in a much more physical way and then comes inside and blows up the NT.

Garza [+]: Physically handles the NT.

Long [/]: Needs to be more active against the twist and blitz.

Mills [/]: Needs to be more active against the twist and blitz looks a little confused.

Play 19: Run [5 Yards]

Bushrod [+]: Engages the DE on the zone run and keeps him outside, not a dominant block, but what you are looking for.

Slauson [/]: Engages James Harrison on the blitz and it is push, but I like how he keeps his hands locked on and finishes the rep.

Garza [+]: Nice job cutting off the NT and allows Forte to not see opposition color. Not dominant, but what he needed to do with a tough assignment.

Long [+]: Like Garza he does not pancake Atkins but covers him up and moves him down the line which opens up the cut back lane.

Mills [+]: Gets to the 2nd level and forces Burfict back, but needs to move his feet when Burfict tries to get off and allow the 2nd cut back. But he does facilitate a 5 yard run.


-Trestman did everything in his power to protect the line, which was the right decision, but it made the offense very conservative. Jay was not holding the ball and there was a lot of TE and RB support in the protections.

-The run block struggles seem to be on the 2nd level with poor footwork and finish. Long and Slauson had a couple of whiffs on the 2nd level that led to tackles.

-Jordan Mills is a very strong pass blocker. He operates with the DE at full arm extension, which means his footwork does not need to be perfect because the DE is never close to him.

-Long and Slauson do an excellent job of handling Atkins and containing him by using their length and size to slow down Atkins before he can use his explosive plays.

-I think people are over critical of Bushrod. He does not look pretty and at times gets beat late or ends up getting spun around. But he blocks his guy, a guy with 11 sacks and a franchise tag, a guy who has elite physical tools and Bushrod really shuts him down. I will take a physical and professional effort from my LT every week.

TD Drives

Play 1: Pass Jeffery [11 Yards]

Bushrod [+]: Good body position and stays square to the line and handles Atkins 1 on 1.Slauson [/]: Ends up with no one to block with the slide and should be more active.

Garza [+]: Doubles with Long.

Long [+]: Doubles with Garza.

Mills [+]: Sells the playside run and uses his arms to keep Dunlap outside, but stops his feet and lets Dunlap off late.

Play 2: Run [0 Yards]

Bushrod [+]: Gets to the 2nd level and walls off Burfict who takes and epically bad angle.

Slauson [/]: Picks up Johnson but not a very physical block, it looks like he is worried about the speed, and does not open up the backside.

Garza [+]: Moves Peko off the ball and fights him as Peko comes back across doing a nice job moving his feet.

Long [++]:  Crushed Atkins to one knee.

Mills [-]: Loses his balance and hits the ground.

Play 3: Pass [Incomplete]Bushrod [+]: Gets beat inside, but recovers nicely and uses his punch to hold Johnson back and recover his position and finish the block.

Slauson [+]: Protects Bushrod inside allows him to recover and helps Garza a nice active rep despite not having his own assignment.

Garza [+]: Slides to Atkins gets in front of him and sits down the pass rush.

Long [-]: Doubles Peko and watches for the blitz which does not come and allows Peko off. Needs to communicate better with Mills.

Mills [-]: Doubles Peko and watches for the blitz, but does not stay on Peko.

*Bush beat by Dunlap and gives up a big hit.

Play 4: Pass/Scramble  [30 Yards]

Bushrod [+]: Slides out and causes a traffic jam with the blitzers.Slauson [+]: Slides out and bottles up the blitz on the leftside.

Garza [-]: Dips his head on the stunt and is beaten forcing Jay from the pocket.

Long [/]: Physically crashes down when the DE loops inside, but is off balance and struggles to redirect.

Mills [/]: Nice pick up of Johnson, but drops back too far and is in Cutler`s face before Johnson even throws a move.

*Good pre snap talk against an all out blitz.

Play 5: Run Inside Trap [7 Yards]

Bushrod [+]: Keeps 95 out of the play and is physical locking out the defender.

Slauson [++]: Pulls violently and blocks 2 guys long enough for the play to go by. Not great technique but so quick and violent it gets the job done.

Garza [+]: Knocks Peko out of the hole and is in control the entire play with great hand placement.

Long [-]: Explodes to the 2nd level but totally misses the LB who blitzes, but the LB totally misses the RB so it is a wash.

Mills [+]: Gets to the 2nd level and uses good positioning to keep Burfict out of the play.

Play 6: Pass Earl Bennett [7 Yards]Bushrod [+]: Quick protection with a solid base and arm extension.

Slauson [+]: Quick protection with a solid base and arm extension.

Garza [+]:Quick protection with a solid base and arm extension.

Long [+]: Quick protection with a solid base and arm extension.

Mills [+]: Quick protection with a solid base and arm extension.

Play 7: Pass Jeffery [14 Yards]

Bushrod [+]: Quick protection with a solid base and arm extension.

Slauson [+]: Great physicality initially, but needs more disciplined feet as he gives up a late pressure.

Garza [+]:Doubles with Long.

Long [+]: Doubles with Long.

Mills [+]: Pushes the DE wide of the pocket and uses a good hand punch, but loses balance on the push pull and falls off late.

Play 8: Run [4 Yards]

Bushrod [++]: Explodes into Johnson who tries to come inside and controls him with hand placement and drives him inside into the pile.

Slauson [+]: Good double and climbs to the 2nd level, but is stood up, but he keeps his feet moving and pushes to the goal line.

Garza [+]:Quick protection with a solid base and arm extension.

Long [+]: Good pop off the line and gets into the LB but needs to get lower when the LB comes down as hard as he did. Exceptional effort to push the pile.

Mills [/]: Comes down, but does not get enough depth to cut off the 3 technique. Exceptional effort to drive the pile towards the end zone.

*Initial contact made at 5 yard line and great effort and push to the goalline.

Play 9: Run [Touchdown]

Bushrod [+]: Good physical surge on the backside and does not allow Johnson to collapse the backside.

Slauson [++]: Pulls and blows up the DT covering him up as Forte goes by. It is under rated to cover up a DT that is cutting on the play and he does it.

Garza [+]: Physically gets into Peko and allows Long and Mills to climb and Slauson to pull behind him.

Long [+]: Gets to the 2nd level but no one there.

Mills [++]: Gets to the 2nd level and keeps Mualaga in the end zone. He arrives with so much violence in the run game.

*Love shotgun runs on the goal line it gives the QB options and forces the defenders out of the box.


 -The Bears OL does not consistently have good technique and they do not consistently pick up everything in front of them, no OL does, but they are so much more physical than last season that they cover up there mistakes by consistently getting after people.
-Our OTs are very solid in pass protection, neither was beaten cleanly by a couple of talented and physically impressive DEs. I do not care if they are dominant, I just do not want to see clean beats and quick pressures something that neither gave up.
-The Interior OL did an excellent job of shutting down Atkins and Peko. At times they could do a better job on the 2nd level and against the blitz, but the most important thing is to get the down guys blocked in the pass game and to get them moving in the run game.
-Kyle Long and Jordan Mills are still learning and they miss some stuff and have some communication breakdowns. But what I like is that they do not stop when they screw up. Long and Mills are like bulls in the China shop they may miss the LB, but they are crushing the DT in the process. Bob Wylie, former Bears OL coach, once told me if you are going to screw up at least keep your feet moving and attack someone.
-Speaking of Long he may need to play with a little less speed as there are times he is moving to fast to redirect and make his 2nd level block.
-I agree with PFF’s assessment that Jordan Mills was the most impressive of the Bears OLmen. He is a rock in pass protection right now and he has exceptional hand use.
-Garza seems better with better talent around him. There are still some plays that are really bad and he cannot really pass block 1 on 1, but he handles the NT well 1 on 1 in the run game and he is active in the pass game and in directing traffic.
-Slauson may turn out to be the most under rated offseason pick up that the Bears made. He is not a world beater, but he is big, physical and hustles around and makes plays. He is such a huge upgrade over Chris Williams, Edwin, Williams, Chris Spencer and Chilo Rachal that he is making the entire line better. I was impressed with how he stood in  and battled Geno Atkins with his strength and how well he worked with Bushrod in the stunt game.
-Trestman is clearly protecting the line early on keeping a ton of TE and RB help in to protect and run block. We were far more affective in the 2nd half when we spread the field out and attacked downfield. I expect to see that approach moving forward.
-Confidence is an amazing thing. As the game wore on I saw Cutler look more and more comfortable to the point when he was getting pressured his eyes stay down field. Last season his eyes would drop preparing for the big hit. I also saw an OL that started to block Geno Atkins and company 1 on 1 and attacking them aggressively in 1 on 1 situations. As the OL confidence grew we started to move the ball and score points.
-There were very few wow blocks in this game or [++] handed out. This was a solid professional effort made more impressive by the level of compeition that was faced.

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