The Chicago Bears didn’t make wholesale changes to their offensive line this season. Their only notable addition was free agent Germain Ifedi who slid in at right guard. Outside of that, the other four spots had familiar faces in them. So how could the Bears justify their belief that the blocking would be better in 2020? Their answer came in the form of one man. His name is Juan Castillo.
In an offseason that saw a major overhaul of the offensive coaching staff, the most surprising was Castillo. Mostly because he was replacing the widely respected Harry Hiestand. What could the 60-year old Castillo offer that he couldn’t? Head coach Matt Nagy mentioned a few things from a physical mentality to major attention to detail. Two things that were missing from the blocking last season.
Castillo has decades of NFL experience but could he get the desired results with essentially the same personnel and a limited offseason to prepare? Well, based on early returns from Detroit it seems that way. The blocking looked much-improved from all sides. Mitch Trubisky was only sacked once on the afternoon and that was primarily his fault.
The big story though was the running game. Last season the Bears could get any push against opponents to save their lives. It seemed like David Montgomery and Tarik Cohen always had a defender in their faces before they even got back to the line of scrimmage. Not the case this time as Chicago racked up 149 yards on 28 carries.
Juan Castillo has Bears pointed in the right direction
Now obviously a lot of critics will be quick to say it was the Lions. It’s not hard to play well against the Lions. That’s fair. Still, it doesn’t change the fact that the offensive line looked better. A lot better. They were the aggressor for almost the entire afternoon. They also didn’t have a lot of mistakes either. In fact, they had none. No Bears offensive lineman was flagged for a penalty the entirety of the game.
How often could people say that last year? This is a sign of Castillo’s impact. The greater emphasis on physicality and a relentless harping on the little things. That is what leads to effective blocking in the NFL. It will be interesting to see how this carries forward in the weeks to come.