Teven Jenkins has a whole lot more he wants to prove going into his third season with the Chicago Bears, even after shining as their starting right guard in 2022.
During an interview for ESPN 1000’s Bears Weekly Podcast on May 25, Jenkins laid out his expectations for the 2023 season and stated he wants to become a “dominant force” for the interior of the Bears offensive line as he transitions to the left guard position.
He also acknowledged that 2023 is going to be a “prove-it year” for him in his eyes as well as in the eyes of the Bears’ current front office — which didn’t originally draft him.
“For me, ultimately, I like to think of it as my prove-it year and I would assume everybody around me would think the same,” Jenkins told Jeff Joniak, Tom Thayer and Jim Miller on ESPN 1000. “And for me, for this year, I’m expecting big things out of myself and so are the people in the front office and everybody around me.”
Jenkins fared well as the Bears’ right guard in 2022, playing in 13 games and starting 11 of them. According to Pro Football Focus, he allowed just two sacks and 12 pressures over his 576 snaps at the position and earned the third-best offensive grade (80.7) among all guards who played at least 240 blocking snaps on the season. To Jenkins, though, his pass protection was far too porous for his own personal standards.
“Last year, I felt like I gave up too many pressures, even too many sacks,” Jenkins said. “My goal for this year is always going to be zero sacks for myself and the O-line. But going into this year, I just want to be a dominant force and somebody that can be accountable for my team.”
Bears Moving Teven Jenkins to New Position — Again
Jenkins believes he can take his game to the next level for the Bears in 2023, but he’ll also be trying to do so from a new position on their offensive line after he confirmed back in March that he would be moving from right to left guard for the new season.
The Bears signed 26-year-old guard Nate Davis to a three-year, $30 million contract during the offseason, an early sign that Jenkins could be on the move yet again. Though it was thought initially the Bears might consider putting Davis — and his nearly 3,500 career snaps — at left guard to help cover Justin Fields’ blindside, they ultimately chose to leave him at right guard, where he had started 54 games for the Tennessee Titans, and shift their young interior talent to the left side beside left tackle Braxton Jones.
Jenkins’ move to left guard marks the third time he has changed positions on the line since joining the Bears as a 2021 second-round pick. While injuries wiped out most of his rookie season, he played exclusively at the left tackle position in 2021. Then, when the new coaching staff took over in 2022 — and after trade rumors about Jenkins were quelled — he settled in as their new right guard and started 11 games at the position.
Now, Jenkins is getting an unspoken vote of confidence from the Bears’ coaching staff, moving to a slightly more prominent role after proving capable on the interior last year.
Bears Could Have Several Long-Term Pieces on OL
The Bears’ offensive line failed in its job to protect Fields in 2022. The situation was so bad that Fields entered the record books as the most-sacked quarterback (55) in a single season in franchise history. That’s far too many hits on a potential QB of the future.
Fortunately for Fields, the Bears have taken measures to avoid such problems in 2023. With belief in Jenkins’ upside, they went out and added Davis on a long-term deal to hopefully provide some stability to the interior of their line. They also used their first-round draft choice (No. 10 overall) on Tennessee plug-and-play right tackle Darnell Wright, giving them a formidable starter opposite Jones — an All-Rookie — on the left.
If all goes well, the Bears could now have four long-term starters for their offensive line with the only real area of concern (aside from depth) being the center position. While the Bears did not use one of their draft picks on a new center — as many expected they would — they do have a pair of quality veterans in Cody Whitehair and Lucas Patrick competing for the center job. Either one of them figures to be an upgrade from former starting center Sam Mustipher, who signed with the Baltimore Ravens on May 15.
The Bears’ offensive line isn’t perfect, and there will be some learning bumps along the way, but Fields has got to feel much better about his protection looking ahead to 2023.