Bears' offense will be quiet without improved pass protection

Posted Jan. 20, 2011 @ 7:38 p.m.
Posted By Dan Parr

Each week throughout the season we'll identify one player, coach or area of the team that is most under the microscope. This week, it's the Bears' offensive line.

The offensive line has been one of the Bears' more talked-about position groups all season long, and it's at the forefront of the discussion again this week.

QB Jay Cutler was sacked a league-high 52 times in 14½ regular-season games, and nine of those were made by the Packers, who will bring their aggressive defense, which sacked Falcons QB Matt Ryan five times in the divisional round of the playoffs, to Soldier Field on Sunday.

Defensive coordinator Dom Capers could attack the Bears' front five with blitzers from several different spots on the field, and one of the league's better pass rushers, OLB Clay Matthews, has a favorable matchup against rookie ORT J'Marcus Webb.

C Olin Kreutz struggled to communicate with his fellow O-linemen against the Packers at Lambeau Field in Week 17. Crowd noise was a major factor there, and Cutler was sacked six times. Kreutz has said that it was an important learning experience, but those lessons are not going to make keeping Cutler upright a less difficult task against a defense that is so hard to predict.

The Green Bay "D" already proved it can disrupt the Bears' timing. Cutler is probably going to be sacked at least a couple of times Sunday, but limiting the number of hits he takes will be crucial to a more productive performance than the three-point showing the Bears had against the Packers in Week 17.