Scouting the Bears
7:56 PM CDT, May 16, 2012
When the quarterback talks in the NFL, the rest of the locker room should listen up. Like it or not, they are natural leaders in the pro game because of the position.
And when they raise the bar, as Jay Cutler did with his offensive line earlier this week, the team better take notice.
Speaking with reporters Monday, Cutler said, "The offensive line is definitely going to be a concern, and seeing where those guys fit in and seeing what five we go with. You know, if Gabe (Carimi) comes back, if J'Marcus (Webb) pans out (and) Chris Williams, where we're going to put him … there are some question marks there. Until we really get that resolved, get our front five settled, we have some work to do on the offense.''
I have no issues with these comments and I really don't see this as Cutler calling out his offensive line. Not even close. This is much more about the quarterback telling his guys they need to play with some accountability as pros.
Block the speed off the edge. Pick up multiple blitz schemes. Create a pocket. Find a way to slow down the Vikings' Jared Allen, the Lions' Cliff Avril and the Packers' Clay Matthews.
Bottom line here: Do your job and earn that paycheck.
New offensive coordinator Mike Tice has the ability to cover up some of the issues along the offensive line with his play-calling. His game plans will be different from Mike Martz's in 2011 that leaned on the screen pass and "hot" reads to combat pressure.
I expect to see more six- and seven-man protection schemes, the run game to set up the deep pass and a controlled playbook that allows Cutler to drop back and see the field.
Plus, with the additions of wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, Cutler now has two players who can go up and get the ball. This is vital to compete consistently in the NFC North.
Take some shots down the field, attack vertically inside of the red zone and target receivers outside of the numbers who will win one-on-one matchups because of their size and speed.
However, it still starts up front.
Everyone knows the offensive line has to improve, play a better brand of football and keep their quarterback off the ground to see real success. And without adding any young talent through the draft, this is the group the Bears have to work with. That isn't going to change between now and opening day against the Colts at Soldier Field.
What Cutler said shouldn't surprise anymore nor is it a slap at his teammates. There is more than enough talent in the Bears locker room to make a run — a deep run — into January.
But it's time for this offensive line to start playing some ball. And all their quarterback did was remind them of that.
Special contributor Matt Bowen, who played at Glenbard West and Iowa, spent seven seasons in the NFL as a strong safety. You also can find his work at nationalfootballpost.com.
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