Why Germain Ifedi's Position Move Makes So Much Sense
Germain Ifedi could very well be the key to the offense for the Bears in 2020.
It might seem a strange thing to say about a right guard when the quarterback position is about to have the battle of this century for the Bears, but there is no denying they had real problems blocking at right guard last year and they view Ifedi as a low-budget way to solve those issues.
If they get the blocking issues solved in their running game, it could open up the whole offense.
They seem to be pinning a lot on one position switch.
By moving him from tackle to guard, they believe they're playing to his strength and there is one very telling statistic which backs this up.
"He played outside, you know we're kicking him inside," offensive line coach Juan Castillo said. "But really there are some things he knew he needed to work on. You know, we're going to work on teaching him to stay square. OK?
"And the important thing is that Germain has taken it upon himself to work his ass off, to learn how to stay square in pass protection. And I'm excited for everyone to be able to see that."
When Ifedi turns or gets angled in some way he has troubles, and it contributed to his holding penalties or sacks allowed.
It's not easy for a 6-foot-6, 335-pound tackle to stay square. Even better ones struggle at times. It's the nature of the position, being in space and trying to block a charging edge rusher.
Fans in Seattle are like fans everywhere and they have convenient memories.
Twitter has not been kind to Ifedi because of the troubles he's had pass blocking as a tackle, or avoiding penalties. However, most of the social media complaints about him lacked the most basic correct stats on how many games he started at guard or tackle.
The truth is Ifedi started 14 regular-season games in Seattle at right guard. He started 46 regular games at right tackle. He made all 13 of his rookie starts in 2016 at right guard and one in 2018 in the season finale. The week before the 2018 finale he sat out.
Not once did Ifedi ever get flagged for holding in a regular-season game when he started at guard. He has 17 career regular-season holding penalties, all called in games he started at tackle.
These starting and penalty statistics are courtesy of the actual game-day stat books produced by the NFL in the press box.
So this is rather definitive proof he can play guard better than tackle.
The problem for the Bears is an independent source says he did neither very well.
Pro Football Focus' grades for Ifedi as a blocker have never hit the 60s. He was at a low 51.3 in 2016 at guard, 51.7 in 2017 at tackle, 56.1 at tackle with one guard start in 2018 and in 2019 56.2 when he started all 16 at tackle.
Ifedi has allowed 21 total sacks according to PFF.
The Bears only paid a $887,500 cap figure for this season to bring Ifedi in to compete with Rashaad Coward. Coward has only 10 NFL starts, so this is a position with risk involved, even if they are not paying much for the two combatants.
Coward is an undrafted free agent converted from defense.
The Seahawks took Ifedi 31st overall in the 2016 draft and it's not often you can come up with a young first-round pick who is getting paid so little unless there is a problem.
The Seahawks thought they saw this and let him leave in free agency.
The Bears and Castillo think they see some answers for Ifedi, and in the process answers for their running attack.
If they're right, they might be able to finally run effectively for the first time under Matt Nagy. They averaged 3.7 yards a carry in 2019, and the running backs averaged just 3.8 yards in 2018.
If the move pays off, whoever plays quarterback could benefit greatly.
Germain Ifedi at a Glance
Texas A&M G
The Key Numbers: Ifedi had no holding penalties as a rookie in 2016 with 13 starts at right guard.
Starting Chances: 4 on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being the most.
2020 Projection: 16 starts, 9 penalties, 4 sacks allowed.