The offensive line—the catalyst for the running game. The driving force behind the passing game. The backbone of the offense.
And yet this unit is the weakest link on the Bears team. Let's break it down:
Right tackle: Chris Williams. A promising young player that could very well be the cornerstone of the offensive line for the next decade. Only thing is that in his first two years, he has yet to start the entire season. He came out of college and immediately had back problems. Slight cause for concern.
Right guard: Josh Beekman. Now this position is still up in the air as there are several players battling it out. That said, Beekman is probably the most qualified and has some solid starting experience, but is not actually expected to be the future at guard, instead he is pegged to be the future center for the Bears upon the retirement of...
Center: Olin Kreutz. A staple on the Bears offensive line for nearly a decade and is a multiple time Pro Bowler. That said, he is also 31 years old and has definitely passed his prime. He seems to be getting slower every season and has trouble shedding blocks and getting a body on the linebackers when it comes to running plays.
Left Guard: Roberto Garza. Also a 30+ year old player whose best years are behind him. While Garza has shown amazing longevity at a position that usually doesn't, his age (and knees) can't keep holding up. And even if they do, he is another one that has been having more and more trouble getting to the second level.
Left Tackle: Frank Omiyale. When Jerry Angelo signed Omiyale last offseason, he moved him from tackle to guard and Big Frank failed miserably. As many pointed out, Omiyale was much more effective when he was allowed to operate in space. Hopefully, moving him back to his real position will allow him to play to his "strengths," but after watching him so some one-on-one blocking last year, this writer is worried that we might end up seeing Caleb Hanie as the starter by week eight.
Now on the surface, this unit doesn't look terrible. They do have some potential, and after last season's pitiful performance (29th in rushing yards per game in the league and gave up 35 sacks), they really should have room for improvement.
That was until the Bears hired Mike Martz.
Martz always has a very pass-oriented offense and the only problem with that is because Martz is big on seven-step drops.
Cutler was getting flushed from the pockets on three- and five-step drops. How do you expect him to survive when he is standing back there for longer periods of time waiting for his receivers to run their routes?
Martz has had success with teams when his offensive line has been solid. During the Rams run in the late '90s and early '00s, Kurt Warner (and later Marc Bulger) had tremendous success when they were allowed to drop back, survey the field, and allow their receivers to get open. Once the line broke down, or Warner become less mobile, the Rams dropped significantly.
Even as the offensive coordinator for the Lions, Jon Kitna had his best statistical two years under Martz, but was sacked a total 107 times... SERIOUSLY!?! That is an insane number.
It is plain and simple: In the NFC North, the games are won in the trenches. If the Bears offensive line doesn't get a whole lot better and do so quick under the Mike Martz system, the Bears won't even hit the .500 mark.