Chicago Bears' O-line continues to be work in progress
Bears center Cody Whitehair believes it's going to take time for offensive lineman Rashaad Coward to feel comfortable at the left guard position.
"The biggest thing for him is just getting comfortable on the left side," Whitehair said. "That will come with time and reps. We're not worried about it. We're really excited for his opportunity."
Coward started Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers, playing left guard for the first time in his career. The former defensive lineman moved to the offensive line in 2018. In 2019, he started 10 games at right guard after Kyle Long suffered a season-ending injury.
Coward started 2020 as a backup but now steps into the left guard spot following a likely season-ending injury to left guard James Daniels in Week 5 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"Rashaad's a good athlete," said Bears O-line coach Juan Castillo last week. "Rashaad had a really good training camp. I mean, he probably had as good a camp as (starting right guard Germain Ifedi) just about."
The Bears struggled to run the ball against Carolina and have struggled running in each of their past three games. Running back David Montgomery has had little success when trying to run it to the left side during that time.
Bears coach Matt Nagy said Thursday he felt really good about the offensive line through the first three weeks of the season. Of late, the Bears have had 10 guys doing the right thing on offense, Nagy said, but one mistake from one player can really disrupt a play.
"The beauty is that with Juan (Castillo) and with these players, offensive line I'm talking, they're working their tails off every day in practice to fix that," Nagy said.
Castillo returned to practice Thursday after working remotely last week because a close contact of his had tested positive for COVID-19. Having the offensive line coach back in person can only help the blocking issues.
In a Zoom session with the media last week, Castillo turned a little bit defensive when asked about the Bears' struggles running the ball. He noted that the Indianapolis Colts and Tampa Bay Buccaneers were two of the best run defenses in the NFL.
He wasn't wrong. But the Panthers are not a good run defense, and the Bears still totaled only 63 rushing yards and 2.5 yards per carry.
Whitehair said it all comes down to execution.
"We collectively -- and it starts with me, obviously, first and foremost -- getting guys to (block) the right people," he said. "I can be better there, and just overall execution as an offense. We can just get better and better."
On Wednesday, the Buffalo Bills released Quinton Spain, a left guard with starting experience. There's some speculation about whether the Bears might be interested in signing Spain.
Whether or not the Bears seek outside help, the fact remains that the offensive line needs to improve. According to ESPN Analytics, the Bears' offensive line ranks 16th in pass block "win rate" and 18th in run block "win rate."
"Week in and week out, we're trying to get better," Whitehair said. "Obviously, we're not to where we want to be yet."