Friday, July 27, 2012

Offensive Line Competition on Bears

I saw a post on ESPN by Kevin Seifert that suggests that J'Marcus Webb is the probable starter at offensive left tackle over Chris Williams. Others have said the spot is wide open between Webb and Williams.

Coaches will want to see how these players have developed physically over the off season and maybe a lot would have to do with how they have improved themselves in that category. Both Webb and Williams are young men coming into their own. Offensive tackle is a very difficult position that requires a lot of quick lateral movement and you are often facing key pass rushers from the other team. The left tackle is the premium offensive line position that is charged with protecting the quarterback's blindspot. Williams was a first round pick, but has been hobbled by some injuries early in his career and last year sustained a serious wrist injury. The Bears have moved tackles and guards around to manage injuries and improve position play. As the young talent develops, hopefully the players will be placed in their most natural positions.

The thinking on Webb and Williams runs in different directions. Williams being a number one draft pick suggests that he would have all the tools for the position. Teams hate to see any draft pick fail, but a number one pick that does not pan out is forever on critics' list of bad moves. But both players are very close in speed and strength. Webb was a 7th round pick, but he's had his critics who believe his play was not NFL caliber. Yet, you have to wonder if there wasn't something else at work last year when things fell apart for the offensive line. Of course, a change in play calling to speed up plays and reduce the strain on the offensive line might help fight off the injury bug and make protection more manageable this year. The Bears should be a more potent running team and they have more receiving weapons this year as well. Tice has suggested that the talent on offense is stronger and the line will have to do its part to see that the team can exploit it's muscle. Let's hope it's a year where the offensive line is described in superlatives rather than in discouraging terms--that should work well for both Webb and Williams. I think there will be a spot for both of them. Good teams need depth to become great ones. Copyright 2012 Sporting Chance Press, Inc.

Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of Patrick McCaskey's Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout and other fine sports books. Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout is a personal chronicle of Chicago Bears Senior Director Patrick McCaskey that looks back at decades of spiritual enrichment and life lessons from athletes, coaches, religious and everyday people. McCaskey recalls the stories of those who strived to make the cut on and off the field—plus people who left comfortable lives to serve the under-served in extraordinary ways. Order online.