Bears Weekly Progress Report: O-Line out to Prove Itself Heading into Week 7

Andrew Garda@andrew_gardaFeatured ColumnistOctober 17, 2012

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 01:  Dallas Cowboys readies to snap the ball against the Chicago Bears
at Cowboys Stadium on October 1, 2012 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Chicago Bears come out of their bye week a little healthier and ready to take on the Detroit Lions.

With the injury to rookie wide receiver Alshon Jeffery there isn't any concern the offense will lose a step as Earl Bennett should be back to 100 percent after healing his own hand injury.

While his ceiling isn't anywhere near as high as Jeffery's, he's a reliable option for quarterback Jay Cutler, who can use him to pull coverage off of Brandon Marshall.  He'll be across from Marshall in two-receiver sets and likely move to the slot on three-receiver sets.

While he's not as big, physical or dynamic as Jeffery is, he is a savvy vet who knows how to find room between zones and does all right fighting off press coverage. He's got good hands as well, so Cutler knows he can toss the ball his way and Bennett will come down with it.

On the whole with Jeffery out, the Bears will need to adjust, and offensive coordinator Mike Tice wants to get him involved very quickly.

Bennett joins an offense which is just starting to click as Cutler and Marshall are looking to be in sync, while Matt Forte and Michael Bush are proving to be very difficult to stop.

Add to this one of the toughest—and most opportunistic—defenses in the NFL and this is a very deadly team with a real shot at taking this division now.

The drama around Cutler has faded and, as Matt Forte told me in a recent interview, it really only focused them on the task at hand.

Coming out of the bye, the Bears still have a lot to prove and a tough stretch of schedule coming up when they welcome the Houston Texans (still a very good team despite the shellacking at the hands of the Packers), travel to San Francisco and then have to face the Packers again as well as a surprisingly tough Vikings team twice.

It's no easy task to make the playoffs or win the division, and there is still some question if the offensive line will be able to continue to protect Cutler enough to allow him time to get the ball out.

That's really the single biggest question coming out of the bye week. Releasing Chris Williams isn't a shock, but it is a tacit acknowledgement that some of the plans and assumptions which were made preseason were wrong.

On the other hand, aside from the atrocious manhandling at the hands of the Packers in Week 2, they haven't given up more than a pair of sacks in any one game.

 Is he under pressure? Sure. However, he's not getting killed on a weekly basis.

That may end up being the key as they come across the tougher defenses on their schedule.

We'll see how they do against an underperforming Detroit Lions front seven next Monday.

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Follow me on Twitter at @andrew_garda.


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