LAKE FOREST – On the second-worst day for quarterback protection in franchise history, he was the one to speak on behalf of the offensive line.
Guard Cody Whitehair was the one who took questions from reporters after the Bears allowed nine sacks to the Browns in a 26-6 loss in Cleveland on Sunday. That total was one off the franchise record allowed of ten against the Giants in 2010, but that was far from a relief for a veteran member of the offensive line group.
“This one hurts. It is not what we wanted, obviously,” said Whitehair of the performance. “The good thing is that we have a bunch of hardworking guys on our O -ine that know we are better than what we put out there today.”
Two days later, Sam Mustipher was the first offensive lineman to speak, and was immediately asked how the line moves past that difficult afternoon.
“Just focus forward,” said the center. “Got a lot of football left to play. Look for solutions. Look for corrections, things that we can improve on. The only way to go is up.”
Indeed that’s the case as the Bears now look ahead to the Lions in Week 4 Sunday at Soldier Field. Who will be at quarterback for that contest is still to be determined, but the line’s performance will have to improve no matter who is behind center.
Whitehair took responsibility during his Sunday news conference as the most tenured member of the Bears’ line, having arrived with the team back in 2016 and played in every game except two since that season.
“We all take this to heart, we all know we did not play well. Obviously, that starts with me too as the leader of our O line,” said Whitehair. “I have to be better as well. We will get back to work to where we need to be for next week and continue that going forward.”
Wholesale changes to the line may not be in the cards since the team is already thin at tackle depth and the interior players (Whitehair, Musitpher, James Daniels) well established in the middle. Detroit’s defensive unit, which has allowed a league-high 31.7 points, has brought some pressure with eight sacks on the season.
Still, the improvement from a bad game against the Browns starts internally, and with a little tough love. Mustipher said a lot of the problems came from not executing assignments and using fundamental techniques, which all the offensive lineman will have to take a hard look this week.
“You just have to be honest with yourselves,” said Mustipher. “The corrections, look at the tape and understand what you did wrong. Obviously, we didn’t execute the way we needed to, specifically on the offensive line. There’s things I didn’t do myself that I would like to improve on.
“It’s just being honest with yourselves, that’s all it is. It’s not taking personal criticism, it’s just understanding ‘I have to be better for my guys, I have to be better for my room, and how can I do that.'”
That already started with a film session with offensive line coach Juan Castillo, which the center had the perfect metaphor to compare it to after allowing nine sacks.
“It was like going to the dentist,” said Mustipher, and that seat is quite hot after a forgettable day in Cleveland on Sunday.