The truly puzzling thing about the Chicago Bears and their offensive line is they seemed to have a good formula working last season before injuries took their toll. Should the team give that mixture another shot or try something else?
J'Marcus Webb masks an equally big problem with Chris Spencer
The media did what it does best when it came to the Bears offense. They threw blame everywhere, crucified Jay Cutler and doomed the entire season after one bad game, on the road against a team that went 15-1 in 2011. Though Chicago lost up at Lambeau Field 23-10 everyone makes it seem like they got steamrolled 52-0. It's so easy to dismiss the Bears were in that game for three-quarters. Most of that is credit to the defense but still. The problem hasn't changed. The offensive line gave up seven sacks and Cutler threw four interceptions. Most of the blame goes to left tackle J'Marcus Webb. He played very poorly against Clay Matthews but he isn't the only problem on that side of the line. Left guard Chris Spencer has looked just as bad or worse. It's unusual since Spencer played so well at right guard last season. It also begs the question why offensive coordinator Mike Tice chose to remove Chris Williams from that spot. Williams played very well next to Webb midway through last season before a freak wrist injury sidelined him for the year. He is also taller, younger and faster than Spencer. Is it too crazy to think making a switch wouldn't help take heat off Webb?
Lovie Smith must make his O-line accountable just like the D-line
It isn't a new theme with a lot of head coaches. Many keep their focus on one side of the football. A defensive head coach like Lovie Smith is no different. The Bears defense has become his trademark for years. Their resilient showing against a tough Packers offense on Thursday night was a classic example. The defensive line grabbed five sacks and the corners forced two turnovers. Everywhere one looked they saw urgency and effort. So why can't Smith get that out of his offense? It was the same problem that got his good friend and mentor Tony Dungy fired from his first head coaching job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Smith is no stranger to rescuing his team in a crisis. In fact it has become his MO. Part of his problem is getting the offense, the line in particular to play with attitude. Too often they seem passive and unprepared. That almost is never the case on defense. Some will blame Jay Cutler for that but one thing Cutler has shown consistently at least is an ability to play well when he gets passable protection. To beat the Packers he doesn't need to go get superstars, he needs to get them playing smart.
The Green Bay Packers did Lovie Smith a big favor on Thursday night. They gave him an excuse to remind the Chicago Bears offense they can't become Ã©lite without hard work. J'Marcus Webb and Chris Spencer better remember that.
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