After seeing Chicago Tribune writer Dan Pompei tweet of Chicago Bears Coach Marc Trestman‘s intention to move J’Marcus Webb to right tackle, Pro Football Focus replied, “Risky. Was disastrous there last stint. (Gabe) Carimi looked great at RG though.”
This tweet reply marks the confluence of the excitement over Chicago landing a prized starting left tackle and the skepticism over Jermon Bushrod‘s true value on the market. While PFF has repeatedly questioned the signing — see “Jermon Bushrod: Upgrade or Side Step?” — Pompei’s articles seem to downplay PFF’s comments and laud the pick-up.
We do not know how Bushrod will perform with the Bears in 2013 but we can evaluate the arguments for making such a move in NFL free agency.
First PFF railed against the idea of signing Bushrod to a big contract when Webb played about as well, noting they ranked Bushrod 44th and Webb 47th at tackle in 2012. When Trestman said this position change would occur, PFF added that Webb performed poorly at right tackle his rookie year — which is relevant but also discounts the leaps and bounds Webb has made in the two years since. According to PFF grading, Webb recorded a -35 in 2010, a -16.2 in 2011 and a -0.8 in 2012.
The grades from 2011 and 2012 came at left tackle, but deeming that irrelevant given the position switch disregards Webb’s improvement as an offensive tackle.
Meanwhile, Pompei takes on much more of an ecstatic tone in “‘Perfect storm’ carried Bushrod to Bears,” citing that “We can debate how good Bushrod has been. But it’s fact he has been to two Pro Bowls. He has been a starter on a Super Bowl winner.”
Jeff Saturday in 2012 and David Diehl in 2011 are two debunking theories for why neither of those necessarily guarantee quality. In another article Pompei seems to passively refute PFF’s comments by singing the virtues of Bears general manager Phil Emery.
“Emery doesn’t mind coming to a different conclusion than PFF. … That isn’t to say he does not value statistical analysis. In fact, he said he attended the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics conference in Boston earlier this month. He said it was a very enjoyable experience.”
Regardless, Jay Cutler must find it encouraging that the Bears are finally ditching their years-long complacency at offensive line.