Dan Pompei at the Chicago Tribune wrote a nice long column today about what the Bears need to do to compete in the already good and rapidly improving NFC North. Not surprisingly, Pompei starts with the offensive line:
“If the team was starting to convince itself the starting five offensive linemen could continue to improve and become a solid unit next year, the Packers pass rush gave them some sobriety. The problem the Bears are facing is the three defensive lines in their division may be the best three in the NFL.”
Dead on. But what should be done is another problem altogether. Pompei has some specific solutions in mind:
1. Move Chis Williams from guard to tackle
I hope things are not as bad here as Pompei thinks they are. I didn’t think Williams did all that badly at guard. If they move him back to tackle, they might as well just call him a bust and make him a back up. I’m going to mildly disagree and say Williams should be left to further acclimate and compete at guard.
2. Move J’Marcus Webb to left tackle
I wouldn’t do this either. Webb does seem to have a lot of talent but moving him to left tackle where he’d have to more consistently take on the best pass rush in the league seems to be stretching it. He needs to pass protect, of course, but I see no reason to take him out of his comfort zone by moving him to the left.
I realize that I’m being a nay-sayer here and its always easiest to say “no”. But I’ll say this. The only thing worse than doing the wrong thing would be to do nothing at all. The Bears need an influx of talent on the offensive line to compete. Many Bear fans like to criticize Mike Martz but he did a good job of getting some favorable match ups on the field last Sunday. Jay Cutler left at least four touchdowns on the field with bad passes. Not all of that was the line’s fault. But all three quarterbacks were under pressure all game. Asking anyone to run or perform in an offense without the big boys up front is asking the impossible.
Olin Kreutz is a warrior and a leader but they need a succession plan for him. Frank Omiyale isn’t a left tackle. Williams may not be a guard. There isn’t a single elite lineman on the roster to stabilize the unit. The Bears need a complete overhaul from top to bottom, attacking the problem aggressively in free agency and the draft or the next season may be as bad as this one was good.