In advance of the 2014 Chicago Bears season, we will take a close look at different units or players essential for team success. Today, we will look at the offensive line.
At the start of the 2013 season, the Bears completely revamped the offensive line. Only one starter from the previous season, center Roberto Garza, was even on the team, let alone starting.
The new line did well. It opened up holes for Matt Forte, who finished with the most rushing yards by a Chicago Bears runner not named Walter Payton. It gave Jay Cutler and Josh McCown enough time to throw to their all-world receivers.
The line anchored the second highest scoring offense in the NFL, one that broke franchise records in total yards(6,109), passing yards(4,450), passing touchdowns(32), quarterback rating(96.9) and first downs(344).
Heading into training camp this season, all five starters return. The Bears re-signed Garza and Slauson. The uncertainty is gone. Confidence is what reigns now at Halas Hall.
“To be able to bring them back again, continue to progress and add to the system is certainly a benefit,” said coach Marc Trestman.
“They’re focused on trying to be the best offensive line they can be. They know they can get better. And we’ve got some new guys in the mix that are competing as well, not necessarily for starting positions but for positions on the team. So it’s a positive thing.”
In addition to the returning starters, the Bears also re-signed backups Eben Britton and Taylor Boggs. Not satisfied with that, Emery hit free agency again and signed center/guard Brian de la Puente, who spent his last three seasons protecting one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL, Drew Brees. So, in addition to returning a cohesive unit from last season, the Bears also have quality depth.
In the second year under Trestman, this line should allow the skill players to reach heights a Chicago Bears offense has never attained.