Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune comments: on the performance of the offensive line yesterday:
“What has marked this turnaround season has been consistent defensive performances and an improving offense. The offensive line, which was overrun by the Seahawks in Week 6, was much better.”
Bears tight end Greg Olsen agrees via Fred Mitchell at the Tribune:
“I don’t think you can give enough credit to our offensive line. I know we had a few breakdowns that weren’t necessarily their fault. But they played great. Jay [Cutler] had some good time back there to let the receivers and stuff develop.”
But leave it to Dan Pompei, also at the Tribune really puts it in perspective in his column:
“If there is one story from this Bears season, it is their offensive line.
“How it was inadequate at the start.
“How it has evolved and improved through individual effort, relentless coaching and continuity.
“And how it ultimately will decide if this team achieves all it desires.”
The offensive line did a great job yesterday. They generally built a wall to protect Jay Cutler and they dominated the line of scrimmage as the Bears practically ran over the Seahawks all game. But there’s a caveat that has to be mentioned:
“How far the line has come was evident in the Seahawks’ game plan. In October, the Seahawks blitzed 21 times and capitalized on the Bears’ inexperience and unfamiliarity. On Sunday, the Seahawks rarely rushed more than four.”
Though Pompei chooses to frame it in a positive light, the fact remains that the Seahawks didn’t blitz much yesterday. And I thought that was a huge mistake because that is what has been this team’s achilles heel. Seattle coach Pete Carroll explained it this way via Danny O’Neil at the Seattle Times:
“The situations, all the down-and-distances were much shorter. We had a lot of third-and-8s and more last time. This time it was third-and-three, -four, -five the whole time.”
Regardless, when the Seahawks did blitz, at least to my eye, they got good pressure on Cutler.
Its also possible that the Seahawks were afraid to blitz with the Bears running the ball so effectively. But I can guarantee that won’t stop the Packers. And the Bears had better be ready to handle it – more than they were yesterday. As Pompei acknowledges as with his finishing line:
“The Bears offensive line, then, likely will be the story of the NFC championship game. As it has been the story of the Bears season.”