Chicago Sun-Times

Inside the numbers: A look at Garza's standing at right guard

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We have received questions throughout the offseason about the status of right guard Roberto Garza. The latest comes from Alan T. in Chicago:

"If Josh Beekman and Frank Omiyale are in competition for the left guard job, what's going on at right guard? Is anyone pushing Roberto Garza for his job?''

Maybe we can shed some light on this issue. Besides Omiyale's brief appearance at right tackle in March when the coaching staff didn't have enough offensive linemen to run a full minicamp (talk about a scheduling snafu), he's been used strictly at left guard from everything we've seen.

Recently, Beekman and Omiyale have started splitting time at left guard although no decision is imminent on that position. Most expect Omiyale to win that spot, and his contract would certainly indicate the Bears believe he will be in the lineup. Omiyale is getting more than half of the $11.5 million base value in his four-year contract this season.

Offensive coordinator Ron Turner said in March that Dan Buenning, acquired via trade from Tampa Bay at the start of last season, could compete with Garza at right guard. We have not seen Buenning with the first team in drills to this point. That doesn't mean it hasn't happened, but we haven't seen it. Turner emphasized the coaching staff was happy with Garza's performance.

It's difficult to judge individual offensive line play with statistics, but here are some interesting numbers we've looked at courtesy of Elias Sports Bureau. They seem to support Garza.

Matt Forte Rushing Statistics

By Play Direction

Right side 102 carries, 405 yards, 4.0 average
Left side 95 carries, 314 yards, 3.3 average
Middle 60 carries, 286 yards, 4.8 average

According to those numbers, the Bears were more successful running up the middle and to the right than going left. Does that mean Garza was more effective than Beekman? Again, it's difficult to study an individual lineman based on rushing numbers. A case could be made that reports of Garza's demise have been exaggerated. He's made 48 consecutive starts, exceeded on the line by only center Olin Kreutz.

Buenning made 23 starts in three seasons with Tampa Bay, including all 16 as a rookie in 2005. He's entering the final year of his contract and also has experience working as a reserve center.

The short of it is it looks like Garza remains entrenched at right guard. Judging by Forte's statistics from last season, it just might be the right move. We'll surely learn more in training camp.

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It's a fair question and you are right to question the conventional wisdom that Garza is on the decline (or fully and completely declined).

I would control those stats for designed short yardage plays, such the fullback dive. If memory serves, the Bears usually go left with those. Also, pass blocking needs to be considered of course.

Those stats suggest he is a decent run blocker (just don't ask Chris Harris about that).

You also have to take into account that we had John Tait at RT lat year and replacing him with a question mark in Chris Williams. I'm going to be nervous on Sundays with him and Garza manning the right side of the line. Thank god Cutler's a righty

Everything I have read talks about Garza struggling. Is there nobody pushing him in camp? What about the draft pick we got on the O-line? Any word on him yet? Somebody help me out here

Garza flat out sucks. Enough said.


these numbers only add up to 1,005 yards rushing, forte had 1,238 rushing , where is the rest of the rushing yards?

Another indicator that could shed some light on this subject is to include statistics on how often the runs to the right side including a pulling LG ie.... Beekman.

I watched a 5-minute U-tube clip of some of Forte's work last season and I saw a ton of occurances where Beekman pulled from his LG spot and was the lead blocker that sprung Forte on some nifty runs along the right side of the O-line. Garza gets cred's according to your list but Beekman was the lynch-pin that made plenty of those runs successful to the right.

Go Bears !!

Garza needs to go. He is an undersized guard more suited to be an undersized center for a dome team in the mold of the Colts. The reason Beekman is being repalced at LG is to replace him with a larger mauling type. Garza should end with the same fait. Isnt that what Angelo stated durring the draft?? That they have had a change in philosophy and they no longer wanted small guards who could play center but large tackles that could play guard??? I now Omiyale is listed a 310 but I have read numerous times that he plays closer to 330lbs. Thats what I mean by size!!! That is the kind of size our interior lineman need to have. An exception can be made for especially gifted athleets at the center spot like kreutz but only in those rare cases. That is what works best in our outdoor cold weaher town, especially down the stretch! That sort of Mauling and wearing down of a defensive front provided by oversized lineman will also allow Cutler time to throw. Most teams in the NFC East have figured that out, look at the size of those o-lines collectively. Heck those teams often even have oversized TE'S and FB's for optimum size and power leverage against opponents. Even Bill parcels has built that kind of a line in Miami,(Traditionally a finesse O-Line)through the draft and free agency. Is it any coinsidence that thats the kind of line he left built in Dallas or even the Jets and Giants in his past?? Absolutely not. All that being said I think that Buenning should be given a shot at the RG spot. He is listed at 6'4 320 and is much closer to the prototype than finesse Garza!!!

Garza was the one that made that great downfield block that set Forte loose on the long TD run in the Indy game. But after that, it was the shift vs Sanders that got him to the end zone. That was Forte's coming out party.

What about the rating the coaches give each lineman after each game? This shows a lot more than these stats, which are dependent on far too many factors to tell anything about even a small group of players, let alone an individual.

a random thought. maybe fortes numbers are better to the right becasue thats where dez clark would line up and he is a good run blocking tight end. also id like to point out i have nothing against garza but i do think he needs to play alot better than he has the past 2 years or give someone else his job.

Is it just possible that Forte is a more instinctive runner when running to the right side? Also aren't most offenses better running to the right side? How do we compare to other teams in that respect?

It's going to be an interesting training camp. I can't wait to see how things finally shake out on the O line. I never would have expected the averages would be higher running right. I thought Garza had a 'trick knee' condition and that he was playing on it without an ACL or something like that. I figured he was starting for now because his experience held him an eyebrow above the competition, for now. Brad, or anyone, do you know anything more specific about his knee condition and any limitations he might have athletically?

I think the Bears need to get as physical as possible at the guard position, you just don't see very many Bears O-linemen pulling out in run blocking. Beekman doesn't strike me as a powerful blocker, and from the looks of it, the Bears' coaching staff agrees. Bottom line: Lovie and co. see the film, see the practice and see the weight training. Garza wasn't a draft pick or a young guy that Angelo/Lovie want to give a break in the hopes that he develops, he was a free agent acquisition. All we can do is trust that the Bears are injecting competition into the right parts of the offensive line.

They didnt count how many times C.Harris put him on his 310 pound back.Besides, Beekman shared the left side with a horrible T name St.Clair aka Mr.give up 4 sacks in a game.

Yes, Tait retired for a reason - it's possible Garza was overextending himself to help Tait, now with a rook at RT, we will see what Garza does, but it's hard to imagine that Buenning can not get some reps, he was a pretty good Olineman a few years back.

If Garza isn't good enough to play in the Bears O-line, I guarntee you he will be replaced. JA and Lovie have something going right now and a weak right guard is not going to slow the train. If there is one position that can be filled relatively quick, this would be it. As summer moves on and more cuts are made, somebody will be available. I trust JA and the Bears to make the right decision on this one! GO BEARS!!!

On a random topic: Larry Mayer names two new Bears. " The final two unsigned selections, third-round choices Jarron Gilbert and Juaquin Iglesias, inked four-year deals Wednesday"

Hopefully these fellas can make a decent difference to the team. Go Bears.

I agree with Dice. These numbers probably give an idea as to how awful John St. Clair was. I'm glad we didn't give him the contract he was looking for.

I was disapointed that Chicago didn't take a stab at a guard in the draft like Duke Robinson or Big Baby, as they were highly touted through the whole combine/scouting process, but ended up dropping in the draft like a lead fart.

Jerry Angelo realizes we have to get bigger to match up with the beef on Minnosotta.

Hey Brad

What about Shaffer? Is he strictly RT depth (assuming Williams is the starter), or could he potentially start at RG?

The Bears employ a power running scheme that utilizes "down blocks" from backside linemen to create cutback lanes.

In this case, the "play direction" is actually misdirection.

Handing off the ball left forces the defense to flow left. The RG and RT must push backside defenders left, forcing over pursuit, and then seal them from their contain responsibilities. Basically, successful run action to the left requires dominant blocking by the right side of the line.

Thomas Jones was very successful at executing this cutback scheme.

The displayed statistics, and my interpretation of the numbers, support the general feeling that Garza must be pushed by legitimate competition.

Garza is the weak link in a line trying to get bigger and stronger. Buenning is larger and has a history of being a mauler, Garza is a finesse player, you don't go to a gunfight with a knife it's time to change, balance needs it winter in Chicago demands it. The schedule has some pretty good front 7's on it we need to be big and nasty to sent the tempo and make this team balanced and dangerous. Here's hoping they make the right calls GO BEARSSSS

It might come down to who Olin wants playing next to him, he is the O Captain make no mistake about it, and the D respects him big time as well. So I would think if Olin feels more comfortable with Garza then Garza it is. Which even though I feel Buenning should get a shot, I don't have any problem with Olin saying who plays next to him. Think Tait and Brown did not consult Olin before retiring? Maybe I am putting too much stock in Olin but last year when Olin came back and addressed the team and that loud yell was team respect.

Kreutz signs no ones checks. The competition should be open, in my opinion Buenning brings a different attitude and strength and size match up with main rivals in Minnesota whose Williams could crumble if kept on the field and pounded with equal size and strength. If you hit a wall enough with a sledge hammer it will make holes. Having another back bigger than the other also keeps the pounding going. When the winter comes in we have a better chance to win the war in the trenches.

Let us also not forget that Beekman's running mate was John St. Clair, who was perhaps the slowest LT out of his stance that I have seen in a Bears uniform since Stan Thomas.

I would be interested in seeing what the split is (right/left) for all 32 NFL teams is. Traditionally, the right side is the strong side of the offense, which lends you to think they would run to the strong side more often.

I believe there are many people who are against Hispanic players. He is one who does not give up on any play and continues to work hard. There is story about him on how he was told there is no way he would make it to the NFL. But with his determination and to silence all the critics who are just aganist a person who works hard and is a role model in the community. Everyone should know how it feels when someone tells you "You can't do it; many attempt to achieve their goal to shut people up". He continues to help the community and the community continues to support him. The attendance in Hispanics attending the home games has increased. Remember Hispanics and Puerto Ricans are the majority minority in Chicago.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on June 10, 2009 8:42 AM.

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