If you watched the Bear’s performance on a couple of Saturday nights ago against the Buffalo Bills, you may have seen some definite issues with their offensive line. Yes, it was just the first game of the preseason and everyone is still very rusty thanks to the lockout but that performance still leaves something to be desired.
The Bears offensive line is looking new when you compare it to last year’s group. The current starters are at center Roberto Garza, at left tackle J’Marcus Webb, at right tackle Gabe Carimi, at right guard Lance Louis and at left guard Chris Williams.
Gone is long time center Olin Kreutz who, even though he was getting older, was still a vital and workable piece of the Bears offensive line puzzle. He should have been retained for at least one more season. Garza does have experience playing center but he’s not getting any younger and the Bears have another option at center that might work out better in Chris Spencer. The Bears haven’t been giving Spencer too much of a chance to win that job so far this preseason but they might as the preseason goes on.
Fans probably see a big problem at the left tackle position with Webb. After Webb’s remarks about his preparedness for Buffalo Bills outside linebacker Shawne Merriman this week, there is some cause concern. The Bears will want to pay as much attention to this area as possible because it is so critical to the performance of their passing game and the health of their quarterback.
Either Webb has to get better or the Bears need to find someone else to take his spot. There is always this year’s first round draft pick Gabe Carimi but he has a lot to learn and may not be the best fit at the left tackle position at this time.
But the Bears need that position to work and work well in order to be effective in 2011.
Williams returns at the guard position and this will be a make or break year for him. After pretty much failing as a tackle the Bears will hope that this highly paid player can make his mark at the guard position and prove his value. Louis is an interesting prospect at the other guard spot. He played guard last season and has another year of experience under his belt but is he the right man for the job?
The Bears don’t have too many other players on their roster that they can rely upon to compete heavily with this group and win starting spots. Some of their backups, including Frank Omiyale, Josh Davis, Edwin Williams and Johan Asiata have a little bit of experience but may not be adequate enough to replace anyone should they under-perform or even if there is an injury.
So the real error here is that the Bears didn’t plan accordingly during both the offseason and during free agency for the problems that they were going to face on the offensive line. Everyone knew that going into the season with a second year player with little experience at the left tackle position was going to be an issue and the Bears may not be prepared for the consequences.
So what can they do to fix their problems? The Bears may want to consider moving Carimi to the left side to see how he does there. Perhaps he could do better than Webb is doing?
They will probably have to stick with what they have at the guard and center position although Spencer may end up working his way into a spot at some point especially if he has a good training camp. Look for Spencer to end up starting somewhere perhaps either before the season begins or shortly after it starts.
The Bears need to try everything that they possibly can to make sure that they get the best line combination ready for the regular season. Right now it appears as if they are struggling at being able to do that so hopefully they will be able to get something figured out and get something put together that’s going to work.