The knee jerk reaction after a 9 sack performance, including 4 by the starting offensive line, would be to start making changes. Mike Tice practically promised as much if the starters “faltered” when he set his starters early last week. Even though it’s safe to say they faltered, don’t expect any sudden changes in advance of next preseason game against the New York Giants on Monday Night Football next week.
I think if the Bears make a change, it will smack of desperation and they could lose the confidence of their young linemen. It would be too quick to pull the hook and could make Tice and the Bears coaching staff look like they don’t know what they’re doing. (I know, they probably don’t know what they’re doing, but they like to give the illusion that they do!)
There are certainly plenty of question marks after the Bills game. J’Marcus Webb struggled in pass blocking, getting bum-rushed by Shawne Merriman on consecutive plays. Lance Louis, whom Tice called “an elite pass blocker,” was anything but that while getting beaten inside on a number of occasions. It’s never too early to start planning for the worst. What is the right approach for fixing the offensive line? Let’s discuss some options after the jump.
J’Marcus Webb started 12 games last season at right tackle. Rookie Gabe Carimi played his games at left tackle. With no OTA’s or mini-camps and limited time in the preseason so far, is it too much to move both guys to different spots? Would Carimi have a better shot at his more comfortable left tackle spot? Should the Bears consider flip-flopping Carimi and Webb?
The Bears signed center Chris Spencer after Olin Kreutz was essentially let go, yet he’s not in the starting lineup. Garza has excelled at guard last year. He was able to help Webb on the right side last year. He did well as a guard, but for whatever reason they felt the need to slide him over to center. With Lance Louis struggling against the Bills, one simple move might be a little shuffle to move Garza back to right guard and slide Spencer into center. It gets Louis off the field while moving Garza to his more natural position.
I know that no one wants to hear this, especially not Jay Cutler, but the Bears might just need to leave the line as is for another few weeks to see if they can gel and get their act together by working through the growing pains. How long do you let them go to see if they can get it together? One more game, through the third preseason game? That’s the key question if they choose this route.
I’m not sure who else is out there still in free agency, but there are also bound to be some camp casualties; veterans that could help patchwork this line until the youngsters learn the offense.
Change of Strategy
This seemed to work last season – RUN THE DAMN BALL! The Bears did really well running the ball against the Bills and they turned their season around doing it last year. Forget Mike Martz’s aerial attack and start running. Between Forte, Barber and Khalil Bell (notice I don’t even bother mentioning Chester Taylor), the Bears have the runners to get the job done.
What should the Bears do about the offensive line? Is it too early to panic? Vote in our poll and post your ideas in the Comments.