Mike Tice served notice just two games into the season that no job is safe on his offensive line. While the new coÃ¶rdinator searches for a winning formula, are the Chicago Bears eying forgotten names like Jeff Otah and Marcus McNeill?
J'Marcus Webb could have Jonathan Scott on his tail soon
It's arguably the most talked-about subject in week 2 of the regular season. What can the Bears do about their offensive line, especially left tackle J'Marcus Webb. While all the failures are not his fault, the truth is the 24-year-old has not lived up to his physical promise. He barely beat out first-round bust Chris Williams for the job, but after a seven-sack night in Green Bay, offensive coÃ¶rdinator Mike Tice sent a clear message to his linemen when he replaced left guard Chris Spencer with reserve Chilo Rachal. Some might argue Webb struggled more, but the refusal to replace may have more to do with Chicago not having someone to replace him. At least not yet. Just over a week ago, GM Phil Emery re-shaped the roster by adding veteran tackle Jonathan Scott. An All-American from the famed University of Texas national champions in 2005, Scott has battled injury problems since getting drafted by Detroit. He himself admits he isn't ready yet physically, but in a short time under Tice could become an option to replace Webb. It's hard seeing him as an upgrade, but if Webb can't pick up his game, a change will happen anyway.
McNeill and Otah still have time to reach their NFL potential
The real goal of course for Chicago is finding a left tackle with pedigree the team can rely on. Very few teams have a true dominant lineman playing on the left side. In fact the last two championship teams in Green Bay and New York didn't have left tackles who even made the Pro Bowl. What the Bears want is somebody who can at the very least play in front of hostile crowd, something Webb has not done since entering the league. That is why Phil Emery is likely still listening carefully to the trade winds and free agency wire. Two names that football fans have forgotten are Marcus McNeill and Jeff Otah. McNeill was the anchor man for the San Diego Chargers four years ago. Sadly injuries wore him out, and the Bolts have struggled without him since. Though he did retire back in August, Brett Favre showed how much retirement is worth. If McNeill has used that time to recover, he could have a great shot at regaining a starting job in Chicago. Meanwhile, Otah hasn't let injuries force him into retirement. After a failed trade to the New York Jets and getting released by Carolina, Otah checked into the Bentley "O-Line Academy" in Cleveland. The academy owner vows the promising talent will return to the NFL healthy and ready before the season ends. The Bears aren't shy about giving former first-round picks a second chance. In fact they've had great success with it.
J'Marcus Webb probably won't lose his job to Jonathan Scott, but the clock is ticking on how long he can test the patience of the Chicago Bears. Marcus McNeill and Jeff Otah are not immediate solutions, but if they are healthy, it is worth the risk to sign them.
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