During new Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman‘s introductory press conference, one of the many things that stood out was Trestman prioritizing keeping the quarterback protected.
“I’m going to be responsible for keeping Jay and our quarterbacks safe in the pocket”
“We’re going to work in the classroom and on the field to protect the quarterback, Trestman said. “We’ve got to protect our quarterback, and we’ve got to keep him safe. We’ve got to take care of that precious football.”
The first step in “fixing Jay Cutler” is keeping him protected, as the Bears offensive line has done a poor job of that the past few seasons. It’s the main reason why Trestman didn’t retain Mike Tice and instead hired Aaron Kromer, who is the former New Orleans Saints O-Line coach that will be handed the same position with the Bears, along with the title of offensive coordinator.
Kromer has a great track record working with and developing offensive linemen during his time with the Saints. He helped an average left tackle like Jermon Bushrod reach a Pro Bowl, while also developing Jarhi Evans and Carl Nicks into premier offensive guards in the league.
“Aaron has an unparalleled level of record of success. If you take a look at the last few years, I believe New Orleans [Saints] was third this year, third best in the NFL and second the year before, in terms of sacks allowed,” Emery said. “One thing that I looked at all the candidates for offensive coordinators: what was their record over the last four or five years in terms of what I would call ‘sack control?’
Two young players on the Bears’ current roster that could benefit from the Kromer addition is offensive tackle Gabe Carimi and right guard Lance Louis. Louis arrow is trending up as he was having a solid season before tearing his ACL. He’s a free agent that general manager Phil Emery will want to bring back to solidify the RG spot.
Carimi was playing through the season with a knee injury, which is partly why he was ineffective. Towards the end of the season, you finally saw him develop more trust in that surgically repaired knee and become more consistent in his technique. Carimi is a young player Kromer can help reach his full potential as a player.
Even if Emery, Trestman and Kromer decide that they already have the right side of their OL shored up with Louis and Carimi, the Bears still have question marks at left tackle, left guard and center. If it ever was a year for Emery to tear down and re-build the O-line, it is this upcoming off-season.
If the new staff decides that J’Marcus Webb is not the answer at LT, there will be other options in free agency. The one name that jumps out is Miami Dolphins LT Jake Long, who has the best chance of not getting tagged or signing a long-term deal with his team. Long was once considered one of the best LT’s in the league, but nagging injuries have affected his play over the years. Long could be a nice reclamation project for Kromer to work with, and if Long is over the nagging injuries, the Bears could have an elite level LT on their line.
The Bears could look to the draft to fix the interior line. The one prospect the Bears would love to get their hands on is Alabama OG Chance Warmack. Warmack is one of the best OG prospects to enter the draft in quite some time. Warmack has a good chance of falling to the Bears pick at No. 20. Tennessee OG Dallas Thomas is also an interesting prospect for the Bears to keep an eye on. Alabama center Barrett Jones could also be an intriguing option if Emery decides to move on from Roberto Garza.
When you combine the free agency OL that should be available with this year’s OL draft prospects, it makes it a good opportunity for Emery to build a solid OL for Kromer to work with.