Chicago Bears: Should Phil Emery and Lovie Smith Be Happy with Offensive Line?

Michael Gibbons@DachicagofanCorrespondent IIMarch 31, 2012

If you were to ask Bears fans last season what was the biggest need for the team, you'd probably get two answers: a franchise left tackle and a true No.1 receiver.

Well, the general manager filled the receiver spot with Brandon Marshall, but what about that true franchise left tackle?

Sounds like Emery believes he is already on the roster, according to what he told Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times.

“I’m very encouraged,” Emery said. “We have two young players at offensive tackle that are both very talented. Both are big, physical players. They’re the kind of players that you’re looking for.”

The two young guys he is referring to are Gabe Carimi and J'Marcus Webb. 

Carimi is coming off an injury-shortened rookie season, and Webb is coming off his first season as a left tackle, where he allowed 12 sacks. Besides these two, the only other tackle on the roster is Levi Horn.

No way they go into the season with just those three, so why not make a run at Marcus McNeill or Demetrius Bell?

I personally would rather see either one of them, if healthy, in a Bears uniform rather than using another first-round pick on one. 

When Lovie Smith was asked about Webb's struggles on the left side after a decent rookie season at right, he had this to say:

“There are some things you have to do to help him out a little bit more at times, which we plan to do,” Smith said. “So you can make a case and throw out stats on what he did.”

So basically the answer is to just help him more?

With Mike Tice running the offense now, there won't be nearly as many protection schemes. And while Mike Martz had cut down on seven-step drops, there probably won't be any in the offense now.

When it comes to the interior part of the line, I was okay with them not chasing high-priced free agents like Carl Nicks. Overpaying for guards and centers usually doesn't turn out well. Don't believe me?

Ask the Vikings if they would spend all that money on Steve Hutchinson again, or if the Seahawks are happy with what they got from Robert Gallery last season.

The Bears actually have an abundance of players who can play either guard or center; it is really just a matter of putting the right player in the right spot.

At center, they have Roberto Garza and Chris Spencer. Edwin Williams has also played a little center in the past, but he and Garza might be better suited as guards.

They may also have Lance Louis and Chris Williams as the starting guards going into camp, with both having experience at tackle. Williams was once thought to be the left tackle of the future, and Louis spent a good part of the season playing right tackle after Carimi went down.

Along with those five, the Bears also have Ricky Henry, Reggie Stephens and Mansfield Wrotto on the roster.

With Carimi, Horn, Webb, Garza, Spencer, Louis and the Williams boys, the Bears already have seven linemen, and most teams only keep eight on the active roster.

My personal solution, if they do indeed stand pat, would be to move Carimi to the left side and see if he can handle it. I still don't know why they didn't at least test him out last season.

Next, I would move Webb back to the right side and make Chris Spencer the starting center.

I would then open up a competition at both guard spots. Let Chris and Edwin Williams battle it out on the left side, and let Garza try to beat out Louis on the right.

Like I said before, I would rather see them sign Bell or McNeill than draft another tackle in the first round. In regards to the 2012 draft, I think I would focus on drafting a center like Peter Knoz or Ben Jones in the first or second round.

So what do you think, Bears fans—are Emery and Smith truly happy with the offensive line, or is this maybe a smoke screen? More importantly, are you happy if this is the offensive line they open with at training camp?

Sound off below.


Make sure to follow me on Twitter @dachicagofan, and check out my weekly Bears podcast every Monday on my site The MG Experience.


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