Bears' O-line still has 'long way to go'

Posted Dec. 19, 2010 @ 12:14 a.m.
Posted By Dan Parr

The Bears' offensive line has established consistency in terms of personnel, which it lacked during the first half of the season while players were shifted from spot to spot and into and out of the lineup. The same five players have started at the same five positions in six straight games, but, while its worst days could be behind it, ORG Roberto Garza told PFW he's not satisfied with the performance of the front five.

"We're still working on getting better," he said. "We still have a long way to go. We're comfortable in the fact that we've been able to play with each other. It's unique to have that kind of continuity in this league, but we're far from being where we need to be."

Protecting QB Jay Cutler from pass rushers has been a struggle for the Bears throughout the season. Cutler has been sacked a league-high 43 times, even though he missed 1½ games earlier this season because of a concussion, which he may have suffered while being sacked in Week Four. Some of those sacks have been his own fault. He's held on to the ball for too long at times and also has compounded the problem by not protecting the ball when he's in danger. He's lost a career-high six of his 10 fumbles this season.

The pass-blocking woes are most glaring, but the O-line has also struggled to create lanes for running backs. The Bears are ranked 25th in rushing and are averaging just 3.8 yards per carry.

Rookie J'Marcus Webb, who has started the last nine games at right tackle, has been a top target for critics of Chicago's O-line, but this week offensive line coach Mike Tice said Webb takes "undue heat." Meanwhile, Garza, who should have a pretty good feel for Webb since he has played next to him for the past six games, said he's not having to go out of his way to help the young seventh-round pick during games.

"We just assumed he'd grow week-to-week, and he's getting better," Garza said. "We're all getting better, so that's the main objective. We're always talking. If you're not talking as an offensive line, then you're not doing your job.

"I don't have to do anything extra (to help Webb). He's helping me out, and I'm helping him out, so it's part of playing on the offensive line."