Olin Kreutz knows and understands offensive line play better than most. Kreutz played 14 NFL seasons, 13 of which he spent as starting center for the Chicago Bears. Kreutz made six straight Pro Bowls while with the Bears, from 2001-2006, getting named to the All-Pro team in 2006. He still works as an analyst, often lending his voice and considerable knowledge to various shows and podcasts.
Kreutz recently joined co-hosts Adam Hoge and Adam Jahns on the Hoge and Jahns podcast to discuss the details of the Bears’ offensive line, among other things. One topic that came up was third-year offensive lineman James Daniels’ brief time at center last season. Daniels, who Kreutz has long been an advocate for, played eight games at center in a positional swap with Cody Whitehair last year. While he played center in college, Daniels struggled to get it going last year, which resulted in the team deciding to move Whitehair back to center and Daniels to left guard, where he played as a rookie.
Kreutz then suggested Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky’s struggles and reliance on Whitehair resulted in Daniels not getting the chance he deserved to play center.
Kreutz: Trubisky’s Vocal Support for Whitehair Hurt Daniels
Kreutz didn’t sling any mud at Trubisky — he was more critical of Bears head coach Matt Nagy than anyone else — but he did point out something he saw from a player’s perspective that bothered him. “From what I hear about Mitch, he’s a great guy and a great teammate. I hear that from a lot of his teammates who I talk to so it has nothing to do with him. We all make mistakes in our career,” Kreutz began, before detailing the mistake Trubisky, in particular, may have made last season:
“Go back to last year, and I had a problem with this … James Daniels gets moved to left guard [which] pretty much means you’re not doing your job. If they moved you, you’re not doing well at your job. No matter what the coach says, you’re not doing well. That’s mostly because Mitch was struggling with protection schemes and picking things up. Now, Mitch goes on stage and says: ‘Well, Cody is great at this,’ which basically means James is bad at that. That can strain a relationship. I don’t know if it did. I don’t know if it didn’t.”
Kreutz also noted he thinks Daniels can be a Pro Bowl player and has the talent to become a stud in the league — at the center position. “The one-on-one blocks he made at center? There’s maybe two or three guys that can do that in the whole NFL,” Kruetz said about Daniels’ limited opportunity last season. He also endorsed Daniels multiple times on Twitter, including video to support his statement that Daniels has definite promise at the position.
Trubisky Vocally Supported Whitehair at Center Last Year
After the team moved Daniels back to guard and Whitehair back to center, Trubisky seemed more thrilled than anyone about it.
“It was good,” Trubisky said at the time. “Cody does a great job, having him back there. He’s a really big leader for this offense and this offensive line. He’s really good with communicating, helping those young guys to the sides of him now, and we have really good chemistry, me and him. So he gives me confidence and we’ve just got to keep feeding off that, and when he’s in the middle just his communication and how he leads the guys, I think it really helps the offense and guys feed off that.”
Trubisky noting that Whitehair was “helping those young guys to the sides of him” seems to suggest that Daniels is the one in need of guidance on the field, but Kreutz suggested Trubisky’s struggles reading defenses and understanding schemes contributed to the struggles of Daniels, as well. It may not be the case, but it’s quite possible Trubisky’s inadequacies made Daniels more uneasy.