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Omiyale figures it out on left side

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Dan Parr

dparr@pfwmedia.com
Associate editor

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Posted Sept. 22, 2010 @ 6:24 p.m. ET
By Dan Parr

It wasn't hard to read QB Jay Cutler's lips after the cameras caught him reacting following a play in which he was nearly smashed by pass rushers yet again early in the game vs. the Cowboys in Week Two.

"(Expletive) pass block," he appeared to say to no one in particular.

Apparently someone was listening to him. The Bears' top left tackle, Chris Williams, left the game after just three plays with a hamstring injury. When his replacement, Kevin Shaffer, gave DeMarcus Ware the turnstile treatment a few too many times, Chicago shifted Frank Omiyale from right tackle to left tackle.

Some Bears fans may have groaned. Omiyale — or  "Frank 'Oh my God,' " as one Chicago radio personality has dubbed him — has taken his share of criticism since signing with the team prior to the 2009 season.

However, Omiyale, who played guard last season, proved the doubters wrong this time. The Bears' pass protection improved with him on the left side and the offense found a rhythm as offensive coordinator Mike Martz called for more quick-hitting pass plays that required shorter drops by Cutler.

Suddenly the Bears were 2-0. Oh my God, indeed.

"Well it's not an ideal situation when you lose your starting left tackle early in the game," head coach Lovie Smith said. "You have a backup plan. That's why we dress seven (offensive linemen). ... You have to plan for injuries. It's not like it was chaotic out there, we had to work the plan. Frank Omiyale can do a lot of things for us, so you want to put your best available tackle in that position, which we did."

The question is, can Omiyale do that on a consistent basis? Williams, who has had his own issues in pass protection this season, was scheduled to undergo an MRI as of this writing, and it's possible that he'll miss a few games.

If he's out for an extended period, and Omiyale continues to play well, do the Bears consider keeping Omiyale on the left side and playing Williams at right tackle when he returns?

Probably not. The Bears view Williams, a first-round pick in '08, as their left tackle of the present and future, but there are some NFL observers who say Williams would be a better fit on the right side, where he started for most of last season.

Perhaps Omiyale, who could make his first start at left tackle since '08 in Week Three, is more comfortable on the left side, and Williams is better off on the right side.

Maybe it's just that the Bears don't have any great left tackles. They may have two serviceable ones, and Martz has quickly figured out the best way to run an offense facing that reality.

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