Phil Emery continues to show he won't stop trying to improve the Chicago Bears. Another shaky preseason game showed problems in key areas. Could names like Andy Levitre or James Laurinaitis come to town?
J'Marcus Webb issues overshadow the fall of Chris Spencer
Every expert and fan that follows the Bears has had their opinions heard on the issues at left tackle. It's a battle between two underachievers in Chris Williams and J'Marcus Webb. After an uneven show against the world champion Giants word out of Halas Hall is that Webb finally shook Williams off to lock up the starting job. While that might come as a relief for the coaches, for the fans the spectacle has overshadowed an equally big problem developing on the Chicago offensive line. His name is Chris Spencer. A former center for the Seattle Seahawks, Spencer worked his way into the starting lineup at guard last year and according to offensive coÃ¶rdinator Mike Tice graded out the best of any other player up front. That was why he got plugged in at left guard. Three preseason games later though and things have changed. Spencer can't get any push in the running game and even worse has had trouble in pass protection. Chicago wants to avoid running on the perimeter but they can't do it unless the center and guards can get a push. Spencer hasn't done that. General Manager Phil Emery showed he isn't afraid of big trades to upgrade a roster spot but it's hard to find a team that would let go of a guard. The Buffalo Bills have a real good one in Andy Levitre. A free agent next year, Levitre is known for his strength and pass-blocking skill. His size would fit perfect in the Tice scheme.
Shaky tackling by Nick Roach shows need for stud in the middle
Another area Bears fans know all about is middle linebacker. Brian Urlacher, an eight-time Pro Bowler and future Hall of Famer says he will come back from knee surgery in time for the season opener. His replacement Nick Roach hasn't played horrible but didn't look very good against the Giants. The Chicago defense works around having a supreme athlete making plays in the middle. Roach isn't that kind of player. That is why some fans have rising interest in St. Louis Rams star James Laurinaitis. The team roster had undergone many changes since new head coach Jeff Fisher took over. Laurinaitis and teammate Chris Long are two of the few holdovers. Long already got his contract extension before training camp but Laurinaitis has not. He becomes a free agent in February as does Urlacher. Teams aren't as high on good linebackers in recent years but the Bears are one of the holdouts. If St. Louis chooses to let Laurinaitis test the market the Chicago would regret forever not taking a shot at him. He is athletic, strong and by all accounts a great leader. At 28 years old he can soften the loss of Urlacher better than anybody.
J'Marcus Webb is a fun punchline but Chris Spencer is a bigger question mark. Andy Levitre isn't a premier guard but he is reliable. Nick Roach wants to show he can play the middle but his skills limit that. James Laurinaitis sits on schedule for free agency and the Chicago Bears never ignore their linebackers. Either move would bring immediate improvement.