Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bears Offensive Line Heads to London with Heads Up

After picking up the pieces after the Lion's game, the Bears got back to work and managed to beat the Vikings in a game that provided several weeks worth of highlights for the TV stations. The game plan was quite different than previous weeks and the offensive line received a lot of help from the ends. Frankly, it looked like almost everyone was expected to throw a block when they weren't running or receiving, including Jay Cutler.

The Bears have come under heavy criticism for poor offensive line play this year. The Bears offensive line is very young, very inexperienced and prone to allowing sacks. Against the top defenses they are going to have problems. But like last year, it should get much better as the season wears on.

Much criticism has been directed to management for not responding to the personnel needs. But, it might be a good time to remind critics that the Bears used their first round draft choice to pick up Gabe Carimi. It's safe to say that the Bears were very thin on the offensive line, but the Carimi acquisition was pretty much what the doctor ordered. Unfortunately, Carimi was injured in the second game (New Orleans) of the season and has been out ever since.

Bears management was also criticized for not signing Olin Kreutz, but the ex-Bear did reject a $4 Million dollar deal. The Bears acquired Chris Spencer, who can play center, but the team was compelled to use Roberto Garza at Center because of his knowledge of the offense. Moving players around from their "natural" position is often painful, but sometimes it has to be done.

No one seems happy with Frank Omiyale's performance filling in this year, but last year it was said that "he filled in admirably." J'Marcus Webb had plenty of problems the start of his rookie season in 2010, but Mike Martz said in the playoffs last year, "I don't know in 38 years of coaching that I've seen a player make this radical improvement in such a short time as he has." The early season match-ups against several of the best teams in football have made the O-line weaknesses much more visible. Additionally, almost every offensive lineman has suffered through some sort of injury this year.

The Bears line improved greatly against the Vikings. Lance Louis played right tackle with Spencer at right guard. On the left side was Chris Williams at guard and J'Marcus Webb at tackle. All seemed to hold their own against some Viking heavyweights.

Cutler Deal Still Impacts Player Personnel

Most people now believe that the deal for Jay Cutler was a huge upgrade for the Bears franchise, but management critics should also remember that Denver required two first round draft picks in 2009 and 2010 as part of the bargain. Those were two draft picks that could have helped the line, but you can't have it both ways. The Bears could not get Cutler without paying the price.

The line may continue to be a problem for the Bears, but it's not because it went unnoticed by team management. Carimi will help a great deal when he gets back on the field.

Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of Patrick McCaskey's Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout and other fine books.