8:44 AM CDT, August 14, 2012
The Bears' actual problem at offensive left tackle is protecting Jay Cutler.
The bigger problem might be why the choice comes down to J’Marcus Webb and Chris Williams.
Is this the best the Bears could find? Is this the Bears’ idea of competition? Is this any way to run a Super Bowl contender?
The Bears gave the starting job to Webb even after he came off a season where statistics argued he was the worst left tackle in the league. If you count sacks allowed and false starts, Webb was the worst starter at the most important position on the offensive line. If you combine those stats, Webb makes you throw up in your mouth.
But there he was, atop the Bears depth chart at left tackle to start training camp and then treated like a freshman walk-on. Webb apparently has been so bad that offensive coordinator Mike Tice played him into the fourth quarter of the exhibition opener against Denver on Thursday.
Being left to block Denver scrubs wasn’t a message, Tice said Monday. But calling Webb “the other player’’ probably was.
Cutler and Matt Forte will help mitigate some of the bad line play by getting passes out quicker and delivering an actual running game. Chip-blocking the right defensive end will cut down on Cutler’s near-death experiences, as well.
But look, if you have to help your left tackle everytime, you need help identifying an actual left tackle.
Who did this? Who made this potentially season-killing decision? Tice? Head coach Lovie Smith? New general manager Phil Emery?
Or are they co-conspirators in this crime against Super Bowl hopes?
Tice is one of the best offensive line coaches around and still sounds as if he views that as his main job even while also holding the title of offensive coordinator. I supposed he wouldn’t treat Webb so harshly if he didn’t think there was something there, even if Webb acts like the lights are on but nobody’s home.
Smith actually tried to defend Webb’s league-worst numbers by saying you could twist statistics anyway you wanted and added some smug remark about going against Julius Peppers, even though Webb’s failures against Peppers don’t count in league statistics. Hel-LO.
Emery did nothing in the draft or free agency about improving the left tackle position. Emery improved a lot of spots in an offense that needed a lot of improvement, but when it came to Cutler’s blindside, Emery whiffed like Webb against Jared Allen.
If you asked the three of them who made that call, I’d wager that Emery and Smith would talk about group decisions, player evaluations, and blah, blah, mind-numbingly blah. Tice, though, probably would take the blame and explain his next step in rectifying it. Tice, see, has no time for the clichéd, cloying and truth-challenged ways of Halas Hall. He’s refreshingly colorful and candid, qualities that I believe landed him on Smith’s “watch list’’ that views entertaining and honest assistants as dangerous to national security. Or something like that.
But I digress. Being boring like Emery and Smith or entertaining like Tice isn’t nearly as bad as being wrong, especially with this decision. To paraphrase legendary tackling dummy Johnny Knoxville, it’s all fun and games until Cutler gets hurt, and then it’s hysteria.
Somebody made the decision to start Webb without a better backup plan than a failed and surgically repaired first-round pick. That decision was bad for now and bad long-term because whomever made that call obviously is still around and might make more such bad calls.
Who made that decision? How did that decision seem right and now looks so wrong? How can we trust the Bears to stop that nonsense from happening again?
Is this any way to run a Super Bowl contender?
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