There have been a lot of questions this offseason about the Chicago Bears, mainly surrounding their offensive line.
Fans were looking for answers to those particular questions when OTAs (organized team activities) began earlier this week, however, after the first week of OTAs came to a close (ending on the 34th birthday of Brian Urlacher), it left fans, and players, with more questions than answers.
Quarterback Jay Cutler was even quoted by ESPN's Michael C. Wright as saying that the only guaranteed position on the line right now is center Roberto Garza: "I think all those guys except for (Garza) have a chance to compete and at the end of the day, we’ll see what best five we have"
The main question on the line right now is surrounding the left tackle position, where there appears to be a heated position battle going on between Chris Williams and J'Marcus Webb. On the outside, the traditional fan may be saying to themselves that there shouldn't even be a position battle.
Chris Williams has been in the league longer, has more experience, plus he was a first-round draft pick out of Vanderbilt where he earned First-Team All SEC honors (which is no easy task in such a good football division) after giving up just one sack in 12 games in 2007. And some would argue that had it not been for all the nagging injuries that Williams has sustained in his career as a Chicago Bear, that there would be no discussion about it at all, the job would just be his.
But not so fast, J'Marcus Webb is worth taking a look at.
Webb was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the 2010 draft out of West Texas A&M College, however he also played for Navarro College as well as having played for the Texas Longhorns (where he helped the team win the Alamo Bowl in 2006). Webb knows the offensive line well, having started 12 games for the Bears in 2010 and started all 16 games with the team last season. So we know that he can stay healthy, at least he did last season.
Another advantage that Webb has is his size. While Chris Williams is no small man, standing at 6'6" and weighing 313 pounds, J'Marcus Webb stands at 6'7" and weighs 333 pounds. Imagine trying to get through THAT to get to Jay Cutler. Webb also has to have his cleats custom made, because he wears a size 22 shoe. That size can prove to be very helpful while playing at the tackle position, because it will be harder for defensive players on the opposing team to get around such a big player.
Another advantage to Webb is that he has actually played tackle for the team before. Chris Williams was originally a Guard, however offensive coordinator Mike Tice is trying to move him to the Tackle position, so that Chris Spencer and Lance Louis can play right and left Guard, respectively. Gabe Carimi, who is still rehabbing that knee after surgery, is hoping to return as the team's starting right Tackle, but the team is also trying out Mansfield Wrotto, as well as A.J. Greene and Tyler Hendrickson at the position.
Needless to say, there are still major question marks all around this offensive line, but none as big as the one at left guard. Whoever loses the position will likely not be on the starting line for the team, and will have to come in on swing plays as well as be the backup for whoever wins the starting job. We all know that the Bears don't want to waste a first-round pick on a guy who's going to be standing on the sideline, but with the way J'Marcus Webb has been playing, it will be interesting to see which direction the team chooses to go with in the coming days.