There is the old football adage, "The game is won in the trenches," and that is most certainly the case for the 2009 Chicago Bears.
But so far, the offensive line has not lived up to expectations.
While Cutler has only been sacked three times through the first two games, he has had to scramble on many occasions and looks to be under pressure on almost every play.
In the Steelers game, Cutler threw at least seven passes off his back foot as he was moving away from the rush. The good thing is, he still has a rocket for an arm even when backpedaling.
In contrast to that, there were several times where Ben Roethlisberger had time to go through each of his reads, re-tie his shoes, text his girlfriend, and then throw a pass before he even noticed the Bears were trying to get to him.
I know that one of the perks to bringing in Cutler was his mobility to keep plays alive with his feet, but just because he has that skill doesn't mean we have to make him use it so much.
Add to that the complete lack of a rushing game the first two weeks, and a lot of eyes now move to the newcomers on the line.
Orlando Pace is a future Hall of Famer; that said, his Hall of Fame years ended about two seasons ago. He has performed all right, but he needs to get a little more physical than he has been. He did get out in front on a play to the left side and completely blew up a corner coming in, but now he needs to do that to linebackers and defensive ends too.
Chris Williams is entering his second year, his first as a starter. While he hasn't played poorly, on run plays he never seems to get much of a push—and that is true of all the starters, Olin Kreutz and Roberto Garza included. On run plays, they do not push the defensive line back at all.
The last lineman, and the one who has underperformed the most, is Frank Omiyale. Omiyale was brought in from the Carolina Panthers and was expected to dominate the battle for left guard. However, former starter Josh Beekman played just as well, if not better throughout training camp and the first preseason game.
Yet for some reason (cough ::$$$:: cough), Omiyale was moved into the starter's role for the second preseason game against the Giants and has been there ever since.
While I support Omiyale and admit that his physical makeup and athletic abilities are impressive, he was absolutely dominated in the opening week by Packers defensive end Cullen Jenkins.
The most obvious occurrence was on one play during the game where Omiyale just totally whiffed on a block, allowing Jenkins to stuff Forte in the backfield for a three-yard loss. That is just completely unacceptable.
To be fair, it is not just Omiyale; the entire line has to improve. But if they don't, we could be looking at a Caleb Hanie/Adrian Peterson offensive backfield at some point this season.
I realize that this unit is still meshing and learning, but I will make a prediction: If at least the run game doesn't improve by Week Five, which is the Bears' bye week, they will be looking at a .500 season, and Lovie Smith will be looking for a new job by season's end.