It’s been a long offseason for Chicago Bears fans. Expectations for quarterback Justin Fields are low, with many national analysts focusing on his troubling offensive line entering year two. But is that fair? According to ESPN’s recent ranking of all 32 offensive lines, the answer is a resounding no.
ESPN ranked the Bears’ offensive line 11th-best in the NFL this year.
“This is a pretty stunning rank for the Bears’ offensive line, but they have a few things going for them,” ESPN’s Seth Walder wrote. “(Riley) Reiff and (Michael) Schofield — late additions just before training camp — help bolster the line. (Larry) Borom, a fifth-round pick a year ago, posted a very solid 90% PBWR last season in 10 games, 21st among tackles. And (Lucas) Patrick should be an asset in the ground game after ranking third in RBWR among centers last season with the Packers.”
Despite the criticism launched Poles’ way, three of the four offensive linemen ESPN highlights are players the rookie general manager signed to team-friendly deals in free agency. Add rookie fifth-round pick Braxton Jones, who’s currently listed as a starter at left tackle, and Poles’ first offseason on the job resulted in four new starters along the Chicago Bears offensive line. Not too shabby.
There is some bad news with ESPN’s offensive line rankings, however. The Green Bay Packers are No. 2, but that’s with the assumption that All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari will make a healthy return this year. His left knee is still giving him problems, and his status for the start of the regular season is questionable at best. It’s within a reasonable range of outcomes that the Bears could — believe it or not — have the best offensive line in the NFC North in 2022.