How Can the Bears Fix Their Offensive Line

Jay Cutler lines up behind the new-look Chicago Bears offensive line. (Photo courtesy of Chicago Tribune)

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.

Flip-flop

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?

Shuffle

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.

Growing Pains

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.

Help Wanted

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.

What should the Bears do about their offensive line?

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  • flowermike

    Boomer, if I were to vote in your poll, I’d have to vote for all 5 contingencies.

    It’s not like we were playing the NY Giants last year and we’re still pourous. Oppsss, aren’t the giants next week?!

    Institutional failure 4 years into the Cutler project to still be facing such protection issues. Even if we commit to the run first, there are times you have to throw. And why have Cutler if you’re not going to open the offense up…. same as why have Martz.

    Everything this team says and does is hypocritical.

  • flowermike

    Boomer, if I were to vote in your poll, I’d have to vote for all 5 contingencies.

    It’s not like we were playing the NY Giants last year and we’re still pourous. Oppsss, aren’t the giants next week?!

    Institutional failure 4 years into the Cutler project to still be facing such protection issues. Even if we commit to the run first, there are times you have to throw. And why have Cutler if you’re not going to open the offense up…. same as why have Martz.

    Everything this team says and does is hypocritical.

  • BearGogglesOn

    Good point. I should have included an “all of the above” option.

    The Bears are like someone who goes out and spends a ton of money on a new car but drives around without insurance. Here’s the problem – what happens when/if they decide to blow up the Mike Martz experiment? Do we start over again? We’ve already tailored our personnel to suit his system. Still trying to fix our offense while the defense’s window is closing.@flowermike

  • BearGogglesOn

    Good point. I should have included an “all of the above” option.

    The Bears are like someone who goes out and spends a ton of money on a new car but drives around without insurance. Here’s the problem – what happens when/if they decide to blow up the Mike Martz experiment? Do we start over again? We’ve already tailored our personnel to suit his system. Still trying to fix our offense while the defense’s window is closing.@flowermike

  • flowermike

    That’s what worries me most Boom… no continuity for Jay since he’s been here. Martz is hardly a fixture and letting Olsen walk because he doesn’t fit Martz’s scheme is tough to swallow. Kreutz was continuity if nothing else.

    Remember, Martz was a hire of last resort and doesn’t fit Lovie, Jerry or the historical Bears philosophy… he was the only one that would accept the job. It’s hard to fathom that we’re talking about the same issues year after year.

    Last years record reminds me of Dick Jaurons 13-3. Smoke, mirrors and Mike Brown saved that coach and extended our mediocrity. The Super Bowl appearance and last years gift to the NFC title game has extended a poor coaches/administrations tenure in the eyes of the Mc Caskeys.

    But we’re making the same vital mistake as we made after that Super Bowl loss.

    When you have a window, spend the money to close the gap. We stood pat after the SB and we’re losing ground after the NFC Title game.

  • flowermike

    That’s what worries me most Boom… no continuity for Jay since he’s been here. Martz is hardly a fixture and letting Olsen walk because he doesn’t fit Martz’s scheme is tough to swallow. Kreutz was continuity if nothing else.

    Remember, Martz was a hire of last resort and doesn’t fit Lovie, Jerry or the historical Bears philosophy… he was the only one that would accept the job. It’s hard to fathom that we’re talking about the same issues year after year.

    Last years record reminds me of Dick Jaurons 13-3. Smoke, mirrors and Mike Brown saved that coach and extended our mediocrity. The Super Bowl appearance and last years gift to the NFC title game has extended a poor coaches/administrations tenure in the eyes of the Mc Caskeys.

    But we’re making the same vital mistake as we made after that Super Bowl loss.

    When you have a window, spend the money to close the gap. We stood pat after the SB and we’re losing ground after the NFC Title game.

  • Obnxs1

    You left out the “All of the above” option.

    Plus, you’re right CT should start packing now. He was so-so last year and with MB signed and KB a special teams player too; CT won’t make the team. Heard speculation that Williams will move to center with Garza and Spencer as guards: thoughts? Still think the Kreutz non-signing was a huge mistake; hell Hub called it a mistake of “galactic” proportions last night. Hub also pointed out that they went after what he considered the best FA available from Steelers but he stayed with home team for $3-4 million dollar discount. One, what does that say about people wanting to come to Bears? Two, the first thing MY WIFE says after this: “Why didn’t they go after the 2nd best FA then?” Proof that even my wife knows more about football than Angelo.

  • Obnxs1

    You left out the “All of the above” option.

    Plus, you’re right CT should start packing now. He was so-so last year and with MB signed and KB a special teams player too; CT won’t make the team. Heard speculation that Williams will move to center with Garza and Spencer as guards: thoughts? Still think the Kreutz non-signing was a huge mistake; hell Hub called it a mistake of “galactic” proportions last night. Hub also pointed out that they went after what he considered the best FA available from Steelers but he stayed with home team for $3-4 million dollar discount. One, what does that say about people wanting to come to Bears? Two, the first thing MY WIFE says after this: “Why didn’t they go after the 2nd best FA then?” Proof that even my wife knows more about football than Angelo.

  • Obnxs1

    Plus I don’t think we’re going to see much of the running game until Forte gets his extension. Looked to me last night like Lovie covered for him. First play end around with Forte nowhere near action, 2nd play a little flip to him when JC got in trouble, 3rd play he kinda patted the defense as they went by, 4th play CT was in.

  • Obnxs1

    Plus I don’t think we’re going to see much of the running game until Forte gets his extension. Looked to me last night like Lovie covered for him. First play end around with Forte nowhere near action, 2nd play a little flip to him when JC got in trouble, 3rd play he kinda patted the defense as they went by, 4th play CT was in.

  • flowermike

    The situation at oline is being framed as disastrous. Confirmed from every angle. Angelo is defensive about his “plan”.

    Are the Bears the Bush administration? Full of contradictory rationalization and bravado without addressing the pressing needs, just the public relations spin? Maybe I’m wrong, we’re gonna get off the bus running with an explosive quarterback and a pass happy coordinator who hates first round tight ends. And who cares about Forte now that we’ve employed all the Cowboys players that were effectively released.

    Yep, sounds like a plan to me.

  • flowermike

    The situation at oline is being framed as disastrous. Confirmed from every angle. Angelo is defensive about his “plan”.

    Are the Bears the Bush administration? Full of contradictory rationalization and bravado without addressing the pressing needs, just the public relations spin? Maybe I’m wrong, we’re gonna get off the bus running with an explosive quarterback and a pass happy coordinator who hates first round tight ends. And who cares about Forte now that we’ve employed all the Cowboys players that were effectively released.

    Yep, sounds like a plan to me.

  • MilesJamell

    disastrous? we haven’t even hit the 2nd week of preseason. and cutler did have continuity… when he wasn’t getting sacked over and over. but losing olen and not starting the guy you got to replace him is idiotic. Put Spencer in at center, Gabe to left tackle, and then move Garza to his original position. We will run the ball, and no team will stop us. With that success comes big play opportunities in the passing game.

    we will win the division.

  • MilesJamell

    disastrous? we haven’t even hit the 2nd week of preseason. and cutler did have continuity… when he wasn’t getting sacked over and over. but losing olen and not starting the guy you got to replace him is idiotic. Put Spencer in at center, Gabe to left tackle, and then move Garza to his original position. We will run the ball, and no team will stop us. With that success comes big play opportunities in the passing game.

    we will win the division.

  • flowermike

    Miles, we traded 2 first round picks for Cutler and three years later we’re still hoping to protect him by juggling the deck chairs. Keeping Jay upright should have been the priority of this offseason, not inexpensive reclamation projects on defense.

    You can’t make the investment in Cutler without insuring it.

  • flowermike

    Miles, we traded 2 first round picks for Cutler and three years later we’re still hoping to protect him by juggling the deck chairs. Keeping Jay upright should have been the priority of this offseason, not inexpensive reclamation projects on defense.

    You can’t make the investment in Cutler without insuring it.

  • MilesJamell

    we will have better protection this year, and we will run the ball better as well. i am a little more optimistic. spencer will come in at center and garza will move to his original spot. this has to happen.

  • MilesJamell

    we will have better protection this year, and we will run the ball better as well. i am a little more optimistic. spencer will come in at center and garza will move to his original spot. this has to happen.

  • RobSchwarzJr

    Miles, I wish I had the same Kool-Aid as you do. I am not optimistic about this season. We look to be a 3rd place team in this division. We were lucky with injuries last year, I doubt we are as lucky this year. One injury to a main defensive starter could mean a 9-7 season becomes a 6-10 season! In all honesty, I’m just happy there is football!!

  • RobSchwarzJr

    Miles, I wish I had the same Kool-Aid as you do. I am not optimistic about this season. We look to be a 3rd place team in this division. We were lucky with injuries last year, I doubt we are as lucky this year. One injury to a main defensive starter could mean a 9-7 season becomes a 6-10 season! In all honesty, I’m just happy there is football!!

  • MilesJamell

    9-7? you have got to be kidding me. i seem to remember the bears adjusting the offensive line last season, winning the division, and barely losing the nfc championship game. oh, and putting up 38 points against a top-ranked pass defense in the jets. but all of your speculation comes from camp doom and gloom – just after the first pre-season game. yeah, the o-line gave up for sacks, but we ran the ball for 164 yards. spencer will end up at center with garza moving back to his original position. we are too good and have too much talent to go 9-7. we have one of the best defenses in the league. our pass defense will also be better this year. i had little hope after the first pre-season game, but that feeling is gone. we will see what the bears do the next 4 games.

  • MilesJamell

    9-7? you have got to be kidding me. i seem to remember the bears adjusting the offensive line last season, winning the division, and barely losing the nfc championship game. oh, and putting up 38 points against a top-ranked pass defense in the jets. but all of your speculation comes from camp doom and gloom – just after the first pre-season game. yeah, the o-line gave up for sacks, but we ran the ball for 164 yards. spencer will end up at center with garza moving back to his original position. we are too good and have too much talent to go 9-7. we have one of the best defenses in the league. our pass defense will also be better this year. i had little hope after the first pre-season game, but that feeling is gone. we will see what the bears do the next 4 games.

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