Changes, same problems for Bears' O-line

Posted Nov. 23, 2012 @ 3:42 p.m.
Posted By Dan Parr

In late March at the NFL owners meetings, head coach Lovie Smith told reporters that the Bears liked the group of offensive linemen they already had. He likely told first-year GM Phil Emery the same thing — the Bears did not select an offensive lineman in the draft one month later, and did not make any major O-line investments in free agency.

However, 10 games into the regular season, the Bears are hoping this week’s changes to the starting O-line will be the solution to the problems they have been struggling with for years at the position. No team allowed more sacks over the past three seasons (2009-2011) than the Bears (140), and only the Cardinals (44) have allowed more sacks than the Bears (34) this season.

League evaluators PFW spoke to in the offseason considered the Bears’ offensive line to be among the league’s worst in terms of depth and overall talent. Their current predicament is not exactly new and it does not come as a surprise to league observers.

This season the Bears have benched (Gabe Carimi) and released (Chris Williams) the last two first-round picks made by former GM Jerry Angelo. The only veteran free-agent addition Emery made to the O-line in the spring, OLG Chilo Rachal, was benched this week and was placed on the reserve/non-football injury list after briefly leaving the team upon learning of his demotion. Chris Spencer, who was benched in favor of Rachal two games into the season, is returning to the starting spot at left guard with Rachal out of the mix and Jonathan Scott, a seventh-year veteran who started five games for the Steelers last season, is expected to start at right tackle in Week 12 with Carimi moving to the bench.