Last year the Chicago Bears were embroiled in a quarterback controversy between veteran Mike Glennon and rookie Mitch Trubisky. Despite Trubisky clearly outperforming Glennon, the Bears kept the latter as the starter. After a 1-3 start to the season and eight turnovers, they realize their blunder and handed the keys to Trubisky. Now the same exact scenario is playing out again, only this time at center.

Cody Whitehair came in as the veteran. It’s his third year on the job and expectations are high. However, he’s continued to show a persistent issue in regards to his shotgun snapping. Too many times both in games and practice he’s been delivering bad snaps to Mitch Trubisky. This is not a good thing, especially as the new Matt Nagy offense will feature that formation heavily.

People are growing tired of the persistent issue, opening the door for somebody else to seize the moment if possible. It just so happens that the Bears drafted what many believed to be the best center in the country back in April in James Daniels. It couldn’t have felt good for Whitehair that the rookie put on a show in Cincinnati.

Chicago Bears had to be impressed with game James Daniels had

Of course pessimists will quickly say that Daniels was going against backups all night. This is true. So in these situations, you don’t look for good play. You look for domination and that’s what the Bears got from Daniels during several of their most notable plays during the game. Let’s start with the run game.

This first play wasn’t notable in terms of its offensive gain, but it illustrates how technically sound and athletic Daniels is. After the snap, he’s able to gain the inside leverage on the defensive tackle and turns him away from where the ball is being run. Had that been Jordan Howard instead of Taquan Mizzell running the ball, it would’ve been a better gain.

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Daniels was even better during the Bears’ first scoring drive of the game. Early in the second quarter, he made two key blocks down by the goal line. He got enough of a push on 4th and 1 to allow Chase Daniel to quarterback sneak for the first down. On the very next play, the center got initially driven back by the interior rush but regained his footing and drove the defensive tackle into the turf, allow Mizzell to plunge in for the score.

Pass protection

One could argue Daniels was even better in pass protection. Bears quarterbacks saw nary a defensive tackle in their face all night when he was manning the center spot. This first play is a first down throw to tight end Ben Braunacker. Daniels immediately gets his hands on the defender and doesn’t allow him within five yards of Tyler Bray who delivers the pass on time and on target.

It wasn’t a fluke either. Later in the fourth quarter, Bray connected with Daniel Brown for a big 56-yard gain that set up the final Bears touchdown of the game. Again Daniels stonewalled the defensive tackle who wasn’t anywhere near the action even after the pass was long gone. It almost looked too easy at times.

This is yet another sign that GM Ryan Pace hit it big in the 2018 draft. His rookie class has performed really well to this point. Seven round pick Javon Wims was the star of the Hall of Fame game last week. Now James Daniels is the one taking center stage. Considering the Bears haven’t even unveiled first rounder Roquan Smith or any of their top free agents yet? This bodes well for their prospects in 2018.