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Can the bears’ offensive line survive without the guy making big money?

Can the bears’ offensive line survive without the guy making big money?

Cody Whitehair may be the one player the Chicago Bears can’t afford to lose, based on both his performance and the team’s investment in him. He was put into injured reserve on Wednesday, with a knee injury he sustained in last week’s loss to the Giants.

The loss of the veteran striker, who has been playing guard for the last two seasons after spending most of his seven-year career at the center, presents a major challenge to an attacking line that lacks funding and experience.

Pro Football Focus ranks the Bears streak at number 29 through four games, blocking the pass with a special weak point. Justin Fields was sacked 16 times while completing only 34 of 67 passes, and he was always under pressure.

First-year bear general manager Ryan Pauls has chosen not to make a major investment in a line that has been problematic since the departure of veteran deals with Charles Leno Jr and Bobby Massey. Fifth-placed Braxton Jones from Southern Utah was the highest-grossing offensive man chosen by the Poles and his staff, with no free agent getting a bigger deal than the $8 million two-year contract that earned former Packer Lucas Patrick.

Whitehair has signed a five-year, $51.25 million extension ahead of the 2019 season, representing 47.3 percent of the Bears’ $26.7 million commitment to its offensive line. Only eight teams spend less on players protecting their midfielders and opening holes for running backs.

On a percentage basis, the Bears’ investment in Whitehair places him behind seven other NFL players. This list includes some of the best players in football: Donovan Smith of the Buccaneers (59.7%), Garett Bolles of the Broncos (52.8), Laremy Tunsil of Texas (52.7), The Chiefs of Orlando Brown (52.5), and Packers. David Bakhtiari (52.3), hawks Jake Matthews (51.5) and Cowboys Zach Martin (51.3).

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Pro Football Focus ranks six of those seven streaks led by the paid blockers among the top 11 in the NFL, with the 18th-ranked Texans joining the Bears in the bottom half.

Whitehair has received a score of 76.3 from Pro Football Focus over four matches. He ranked sixth among keepers, continuing the doubles year trend to rank within the top ten (3rd in 2016, ninth in 18, and seventh in 20).

With Whitehair out indefinitely, Teven Jenkins gets a chance to step up. He was drafted into the second round in 2021 but lost most of the junior season to back surgery. Jenkins played interference style at Oklahoma State but was taken to guard at a training camp. He and Patrick had been rotating in the goalkeeper position opposite Whitehair but will now play opposite each other, with Sam Mustipher staying in the center.

Jenkins ranked 17th out of 71 goalkeepers by PFF
PFF
While he divides time with Patrick. This is the best on the line behind the Whitehair but the Bears’ navigators have surprisingly solid scores across the board given the Bears’ low rating as a single unit.

Youngsters Larry Borum (22) and Braxton Jones (42) intervened in the first two-thirds of 70 rolling balls. Patrick ranked 38th among the guards while Mustiver ranked 27th out of 36 places.

The Whitehair is the obvious leader of the unit but the odd scores indicate that the bears have a chance to make up for his absence. Fields would be in trouble if Jenkins and Patrick were overexposed with the overexposed shots.

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