After the first preseason game, it’s clear the Chicago Bears offensive line needs some work.
There is no reason to panic… yet.
The Chicago Bears opened the preseason by getting drubbed by the Denver Broncos 22-0 at Solider Field on Thursday night. The Bears trailed 20-0 at halftime and looked out of it on both sides of the football for most of the first half.
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It’s only preseason. The Bears didn’t even put together a game plan for this match-up. They have been too focused during training camp of working on their team and not worrying about competing with the Denver Broncos. The Bears lost 17-15 to the Broncos last year in the regular season. It’s not like the defending Super Bowl champions got better (they got worse) and the Bears have improved at several different positions since last year.
This is preseason, so just because the Bears looked like a semi-pro team out on the field Thursday night, it certainly doesn’t mean the Bears are headed to a gloomy 3-13 regular season.
What it does mean is that the Bears have plenty of work to do before the regular season gets underway in one month. It will be more interesting to see how the Bears look next week at New England with an actual game plan and even more telling in week three of the preseason against the Kansas City Chiefs when the starters play the entire first half.
The one thing that surfaced Thursday night that has been a concern and proves that it certainly should continue to be is the Bears offensive line. Bears quarterbacks were sacked seven times and hit an additional 11 times during the loss.
Plenty of those mistakes were made by third-stringers, but there were multiple issues when the starters were in the game. The Bears’ running game was anemic. Multiple times Jay Cutler handed the ball off and the runner had no place to go. The pass protection was more alarming. Cutler was in on three possessions and was sacked twice. What was also troubling was that the Bears offensive line struggled with communication, and failed to pick up multiple blitzes and stunts.
Rookie Cody Whitehair started at left guard and wasn’t horrible, but when he played center with the second unit he was atrocious. Whitehair was flagged twice and allowed a sack all on one possession. The Bears may want to have Whitehair focus on playing guard this season and not overwhelm the rookie learning multiple positions in his first season.
There isn’t going to be any drastic changes to the offensive line at this point. Barring injury, Charles Leno, Cody Whitehair, Ted Larsen, Kyle Long, and Bobby Massie will be up front on offense. The Bears might be able to add a veteran piece before week one, but at this point, that won’t be for more than just additional depth (which the Bears also need).
Offensive line coach Dave Magazu is always praised for his ability to get the most out of his offensive lines. He has his work cut out for him. The Bears have three new starters on this line so they need time to gel, but Magazu needs to make sure this unit becomes a well-oiled machine before week one against the Houston Texans.
The time to complain about the release of Matt Slauson is over. This is the Bears’ offensive line and nothing significant is going to change at this point. However one thing is certain- if the Bears are going to surprise some teams this year and push for a playoff spot, the offensive line must improve.
It’s only one game of the preseason so there is no reason to panic. The Chicago Bears offensive line has one month to get their act together. If they don’t, Jay Cutler will be spending plenty of time on his back looking up at the sky and the Bears won’t spend too much time in the win column. For a fan base that has only seen one playoff appearance since the 2006 Super Bowl team, that would be one bitter pill to swallow.