There has been a lot of talk over the last few days about the Chicago Bears' offensive line. Many conflicting reports and incorrect ideas have gotten around. There is a lot of confusion over what exactly is going on.
Here are four things that fans may be confused about and what the truth really is with these positions:
1. J'Marcus Webb has won the starting left tackle job.
Not true. Webb is the starting left tackle for now, but not because he is going to make the Pro Bowl this season. He is the starter for now because no one else on the team is better than he is.
That's a lot different than saying he won the job.
Mike Tice is quoted in the Chicago Sun Times as saying "[N]obody's really stepped out."
ESPN's Jeff Dickerson quoted Tice as saying:
I thought that one guy would separate himself and really jump out there. I don't think that's really happened. So for me, let's keep status quo and see where the games take us. I'm not in a rush to change for change's sake. We hope that a guy in his third year, Webb, will step up and mature as a football player and as a person...will get better, as show us this means something to him.
If Webb continues to make some of the mistakes that he did last season, or if someone else really steps up over the next few weeks, you can bet that Webb will be yanked in favor of someone else.
2. Gabe Carimi is 100 percent and ready to start at right tackle.
Nope. Not yet. Carimi was brought along slowly during the summer mini camps and, although he has been playing well in training camp, he's not ready for a full game at full speed yet.
Scouts.com reporter Jeremy Stoltz reported yesterday that:
Tice said Carimi’s knee was really hurting him at the beginning of training camp and the team needed a player to take some reps off Carimi. That’s why they moved Chris Williams to the right edge. Basically, it had more to do with Carimi’s knee than Webb’s performance.
The regular season is a month away still, and that gives Carimi plenty of time to get back to 100 percent. But don't expect to see a lot of him this Thursday against Denver.
3. If Chris Williams isn't the starting left tackle, he'll move to left guard.
Not now. The Bears have been saying all along that either Williams or Webb will be the left tackle and whoever doesn't win the job will be the backup. Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune said that Williams' future with the Bears could be in question, but he also mentioned that he has too much value as a swing tackle to let him go for nothing:
At least one NFL team is curious if the Bears will part ways with Williams before the season begins based on an inquiry from a personnel man. But Williams could be too valuable as a reserve to trade entering a season that has everyone in camp believing this team will be a top NFC contender.
Offensive coordinator Mike Tice said the loser of the left tackle job would become the swing tackle, but Williams can play every position on the line but center considering his experience at left guard, where he started most of the last two seasons.
For now, Williams remains the backup. He could possibly move to left guard or even be traded.
4. Don't the Bears have other guys?
Yes, but they are not ready either. In the ESPN article from Jeff Dickerson quoted above, Tice talked about using Williams to help Carimi out at right tackle and how it interfered with the competition with Webb:
With Gabe's knee being sore a week ago, we had to get somebody over there with some experience to take some reps off of Gabe. He was in a little bit of a bad way there for a couple of days. We took some reps off of him which seemed to have worked. That kind of [interfered] with the competition. That's just the way it is. You got to play the hand you're dealt. You're dealt that hand, you make a decision, and you have to go with it. I wasn't going to put [young offensive tackles] James Brown or Cory Brandon over there to protect Jay Cutler. We have enough trouble doing it with the ones.
While the younger guys may have some promise, Tice isn't ready to put them out with the starting lineup yet.
This week's preseason game against Denver will tell us a little more about the offensive line. There are still plenty of days between now and the start of the regular season.
For now though, Bears fans need to keep an eye on their offensive line to see how it shakes out over the next few weeks.