A lot has been made of the competition at left tackle between Chris Williams and J’Marcus Webb – and justifiably so. There’s also been a lot of attention put on the limited game experience of right tackle Gabe Carimi. But there’s another position on the offensive line that might warrant paying some attention to during the preseason.
Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune quotes Chris Spencer, who has also played center, on the switch from right to left guard:
“’Guard is guard,’ Spencer said. ‘The only difference is your body is so used to being right-handed and doing everything that way. You have to get used to putting your hand down — left, left, left, left — over and over. You do that when you have those days of minicamps and OTA’s. Then, it becomes easier.’”
It’s natural that Spencer wouldn’t want to make a big deal of the difficulties involved in this switch. But as far as I can tell he’s right in that there’s probably little to worry about. For instance, it seems that the switch from right to left should be easier than, say, the switch from left to right would have been.
I listen as often as possible to the ESPN Football Today podcast with former NFL scout Matt Williamson and former NFL lineman Ross Tucker. Tucker has mentioned multiple times on the show that right guard is the toughest of the interior line positions to play. The reason is that most NFL offenses are “left handed”. That is, they tend to roll their protections schemes towards the left because the right defensive end is usually the opponents best pass rusher. The right tackle usually concentrates on the defensive left end which leaves the right guard on an island between him and the rest of the line.
The fact that Spencer was a success at right guard (and in my opinion he definitely was) bodes well for two reasons: 1) he’s switching to an easier position which he’s even more likely to be capable of handling and 2) it means offensive coordinator Mike Tice might well consider Lance Louis to be an even better guard than Spencer.
So with the focus being on the two tackles, it nice to know the Bears should be solid in the middle. Time will tell.