Bears' Webb grows up in opener

Left tackle more than holds his own as offensive line key to win over Colts

Bears 41, Colts 21

J'Marcuss Webb (73) and the rest of the offensive line had a productive day for the Bears. (Scott Strazzante/Tribune photo / September 10, 2012)

The wide receivers took the bows and the cornerbacks got the high-fives, but the Bears won their opener Sunday because they beat the Colts in the trenches.

The play of the Bears offensive line was particularly eye-opening. And no one played better on that line than the previously beleaguered J'Marcus Webb.

The left tackle didn't even require all the help that new offensive boss Mike Tice promised he would give, if necessary.

Tice was cautious initially, giving Webb some sort of help on five of the first dozen passing plays. But once Colts premier pass rusher Dwight Freeney went out with an ankle injury and it became apparent Mr. Webb had his wits about him, Tice let Webb cross the busy street by himself.

Webb had double-team help on only four the Bears' last 29 dropbacks (including penalties). And he kept his quarterback clean all day.

Going against Jerry Hughes and the Colts without Freeney was an assignment a good left tackle should win. But Webb still is trying to prove he is a good left tackle.

He got help and needed it on one play — the 42-yard touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery. The pass came off play action and Jay Cutler dropped deep. Colts lineman Fili Moala leaked through with an inside move, but Matt Forte was there to clean him up.

Without a fine effort from Webb, the Cutler-to-Forte 31-yard catch doesn't happen. First, Webb held off Hughes to his left, then he got his leg out to impede Moala, allowing Cutler to get the pass off.

Here is what else a review of the tape showed.

Grading key: Grades are between 0 and 10 with 0 being complete failure and 10 being perfect.

Offensive line

Grade: 8

Webb wasn't the only outstanding blocker. So was the tackle on the other side, Gabe Carimi. He had the bigger challenge, lining up against Robert Mathis for much of the day. Carimi also was critical in the run game, and running backs averaged 4.2 yards per carry.

Defensive line

Grade: 8

The nice thing about the performance of the defensive line is there were significant contributions made by all seven active linemen.

Rod Marinelli mixed and matched his pass rushers like never before.

The key was Julius Peppers, who played 56 percent of his snaps at a position other than his customary right end. Peppers lined up at defensive tackle 10 times and was effective.

Peppers wasn't the only pass rusher playing more than one position. All together, Marinelli used 21 combinations of four players at different positions on the line.

CHICAGO

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