The Chicago Bears have finally affirmed what most fans have assumed would be the case after the draft—J’Marcus Webb has been named the start at left tackle. Webb will start the season against the Indianapolis Colts alongside Chris Spencer at left guard.
The Chicago Bears’ official weekly game release, which lists the Bears’ depth chart, shows Webb as the first team at the LT spot. Webb will start his second consecutive season as the starter at LT, despite his struggles as a starter in 2011.
The move affirms what most Bears had started to assume during the preseason when Webb took over reps with the starters in the first week of camp. Webb then started all three preseason games and performed better than Chris Williams.
Performing better than Williams essentially put Webb as the starter and anointed Webb the better of the two bad offensive tackles.
However, there are signs of improvement according to this recent article by John Mullin on CSNChicago.com—the Bears’ offensive line has protected the QB better during the preseason.
Whether that level of protection in the preseason translates over into the regular season is debatable. What we do know for certain is the Bears have essentially done away with the big seven step drop- backs and the three and five-step drops they have implemented are shorter drops than what Martz called for.
In addition to the shorter drops, the Bears have shown a willingness to pass out of the shot gun more often than not and chip with the backs and tight ends.
Even with the disappointment that may accompany the news that Webb has been named the starter, it’s important to remember that the Bears could not have upgraded the position this year.
Relying on a rookie pass rusher to step in and succeed at a high level rarely if ever happens.
Webb’s problem isn’t ability— it’s focus and concentration during the game. When Webb maintains his focus he is a very good offensive tackle, and can handle any rush or pick up any blitz. Far too often though, Webb loses his focus for long stretches which lead to the inconsistent protection.
Dan Pompei pointed out in this National Football Post article, the Bears are not the only team struggling to upgrade their left tackle position. The days of a plug and play LT are essentially over with because the best athletes are on defense and their abilities have surpassed the players along the offensive line.
Bears fans need to have faith that Mike Tice will be able to scheme his protections to his offense, rather than having to tailor protections to the Mike Martz offense.
Webb doesn't have to be perfect in pass protection this season, he just has to be better than last season.