(MCT) — Phil Emery did his homework on the offensive line and came prepared to talk about it Tuesday.
Boy, did he talk.
Asked to evaluate the maligned offensive line, Emery spent 10 minutes and 1,408 words dissecting the unit in an answer to one question. He went into great detail to explain how the team had to make a choice on an offensive tackle in Round 2 of the draft or a playmaking wide receiver. He opted for Alshon Jeffery, who was explosive at times during an injury-marred rookie season.
Emery said the Bears focused on tackles, but there were no elite ones available in free agency. He went into detail explaining how the Bears subscribe to data from STATS and Pro Football Focus to aid in their evaluation process. Ultimately, he admitted the group needs to improve after Emery said STATS ranked the Bears 26th in pass protection.
“We have to get better,” Emery said. “How does that impact winning? Our disruption pressures were like 33 percent range. The six teams below, three of them were in the playoffs. The team at 25th, that was within .1 difference was the 49ers, one of the best teams in the league. So, I cannot absolutely say that it’s on the offensive line to determine our success or not.
“I looked in different areas. I looked at percentage of dropped passes. We were 22nd. We have to get better. The O-line has to get better. We have to push that level up. We can’t be in the back end of the 20s or in the 20s to be a championship contending team on a consistent basis.
“Are sacks and drops a factor? Yes, but it doesn’t look like they are the ultimate determining factor. It still comes down to how many playmakers you have as opposed to the team you’re playing. And are they making plays that are game-changing in the moment of truth?”
They are points that make sense when you evaluate how the Packers have excelled on offense in recent seasons with Aaron Rodgers, a cast of offensive weapons and an often-suspect line.
Emery listed Jonathan Scott, who started five games at right tackle, as one of the top tackles available in free agency after reviewing data from the services, putting him just behind the Giants’ Sean Locklear. Scott wasn’t signed until after Week 1, after he had healed up from a minor knee injury in training camp with the Lions, and he didn’t play until 2011 first-round draft pick Gabe Carimi was benched.
“I made the decision to go with the playmaker (Jeffery),” Emery said. “I don’t regret that decision. I know it’s going to be criticized. I feel good about it because we have another draft, another free agent market.”