The 23-year-old Borom had started the first seven games at right tackle for the Bears this year, and after missing a game after sustaining a concussion Week 7 against the New England Patriots, he was ready to return for Chicago’s Week 9 matchup against the Miami Dolphins. That never happened, though, as Reiff, who filled in during Borom’s absence, took over the starting role.
Reiff is 33 and has played over 150 games in his 11 seasons in the league, and when Bears head coach Matt Eberflus was asked why Chicago is choosing to start an older veteran over a healthy younger player, he gave an honest response.
Bears HC Matt Eberflus: ‘Riley’s Done Well’
When speaking with the media on November 14, Eberflus confirmed the right tackle job will be Reiff’s to lose moving forward, and he explained why.
“First of all, Larry’s done a great job,” Eberflus said. “He’s been awesome and he’s been a pro and he’s working his tail off in there. But Riley’s done well. You know, Riley’s done well in there since he’s had that spot. He’s playing with a good demeanor. He’s functioned well. He’s graded out well. So we’re just going that way at this point.”
Eberflus did note it’s possible we’ll see Borom again yet this season. “It’s still a competition,” Eberflus added. “We’ll see how it goes, and you know how it goes with the NFL — some guys go down, all of a sudden Larry’s back in. So you never know what can happen.”
In 212 snaps at right tackle for the Bears, Reiff has allowed four pressures, a quarterback hit and a sack. He has been penalized just once and has a 72.6 pass block grade from Pro Football Focus.
In 417 snaps at RT, Borom surrendered 10 pressures, a QB hit and three sacks. He was flagged three times and has a slightly better pass block grade from PFF than Reiff (74.3).
In the End, It’s All About Protecting Justin Fields
Bears insider Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic pointed out two very important things about the situation with Borom. “One thing to remember with Borom is it’s not like (Bears general manager Ryan) Poles doesn’t have tape on him,” Fishbain noted on November 18. “He has played 417 snaps this season. Maybe Poles already knows what he has in Borom.”
That’s a good point. Borom also started eight games as a rookie last season, so it’s not like Poles and company had never seen what he’s capable of until this year.
There’s also keeping quarterback Justin Fields upright to consider. Having the best five O-linemen blocking for him is the best way to help the team evaluate the young signal-caller’s talents while also helping him avoid serious injury.
For his part, Reiff is loving his new opportunity in Chicago.
“It’s fun being out there playing,” Reiff said, via Last Word on Sports. “It’s fun being around these guys. I know how hard they work. Just a great group of dudes that go out there and fight, scratch, claw and it’s fun to be out there with them.”
“They’ve been doing an excellent job helping us out and putting us in the right situations,” Reiff said about Chicago’s coaching staff. “And, as a guy that’s been around a bunch of offenses, I really do appreciate it.”