Enemy Intelligence: Bears O-Line Struggles

Enemy Intelligence: Bears O-Line Struggles
October 22, 2010, 10:46 am
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Friday, October 22, 2010 7:00 AM


In an effort to get CSN Washington readers some inside information about the Chicago Bears, we brought it Dane Noble from Windy City Gridiron, SB Nations outstanding Bears site. We asked Dane about Jay Cutler, Lance Briggs, that Bears O-line, and other nuggets of interest. You can get more Enemy Intelligence about the Bears at www.WindyCityGridiron.com and you can follow the site on Twitter at @Official_WCG. CSN Washington Certainly Jay Cutler, Mike Shanahans ex-protg, is in the spotlight this week. Simple word association with the typical NFL fan brings the phrase turnover machine to mind when Cutlers name is brought up. Is that a fair assessment? Give me a thing or two that Cutler does particularly well. Dane NobleTurnover machine? I wouldn't go that far. Cutler is definitely a guy who takes chances, but I think as he continues to mature in this league, the turnovers will decrease. For example, last year, he threw 6 red zone INTs, which lead the league... this year, he's thrown zero. The biggest issue we've offensively this year is the sacks. As far as things that Cutler does well, he has a knack for getting outside the pocket and making plays under pressure. We haven't seen a lot of designed roll-outs in the last few games, but with the pass protection being as atrocious as it has been lately, I'd bet that we see more pretty soon. Also, and this is directly opposite of the turnover machine comment, but Cutler has also shown laser-precision accuracy pretty often. When he actually has time to set his feet and throw, he has made some throws downfield that have been out of this world accurate. CSNNineteen sacks in the last three games? Yikes! The Redskins had their O-line issues last year but they never gave up sacks at that rate. How much of this is on the line and how much is on Cutler and what are they doing to try to fix the problem? DNI'd say 93 on the OL, and 7 on Cutler (also, a lot of it is play calling and lack of adjustments, but I'll stick with the options you gave me). Cutler has at times held on to the ball too long, but by far the issues are with the downright horrendous pass-blocking of the OL. Mike Tice said in an interview recently that often times the OL doesn't know what to do or where to be, and that they need to stop second-guessing themselves so much.Regardless of how you divvy up the responsibility or blame, one thing is for certain: We've GOT to get it figured out quickly, or Cutler is going to be turned into a pile of mashed potatoes. CSNOn a couple of different occasions, Lance Briggs was close to being another one of Dan Snyders high-priced free agent acquisitions. Are you glad he stayed in Chicago? Give me a quick scouting report on him. DNLance is one of the quiet warriors on our defense, and is having a Pro Bowl season again this year. He's not a guy who is out on the field being vocal, but he lets his work speak for itself. Having him next to a resurging Brian Urlacher (who is also having a Pro Bowl season), along with SLB Pisa Tinoisamoa, definitely makes the Chicago LB corps the best in football (sorry Panthers fans, but it's true). We could not be happier with having Lance on our roster. CSNLovie Smith seems to be one of the nicest guys in the NFL. Is he too nice to be successful? How is he perceived around Chicago and among the fan base? DNThe fan base loves to break out the Fire and Passion arguments... many people see Lovie as too passive and not emotional enough. Honestly, and I may be in the minority, I think that is a bunch of baloney. One of our long-time WCG members Allie Fox said the other day (and I paraphrase): "Judge a head coach by their decision-making, judge them by their play calling,by their time-management,judge them by how well their team is prepared for the game... just stop judging them by their facial expressions and how much screaming and yelling they do on the sideline." And you know what; I agree 100 with Allie. Lovie has done some things right, but he's also made a LOT of questionable decisions in the last few seasons. We'll see if he is able to create some stability for the Bears soon, as right now we are not seeing too much progress in areas that are of huge concern. CSNGive me one player on each side of the ball who I probably havent heard of who could make a big play on Sunday. DNGood question. On the defensive side of the ball, I'd probably say DT Matt Toeaina. We haven't gotten much production out of Tommie Harris this season, but Matt has stepped up and done a lot of things right. He's a first year starter for the team (drafted by the Bengals in the 6th round of the 2007 draft, but did not make their roster), but he's very familiar with Lovie Smith and Rod Marinelli's defense. Matt has constantly been in the backfield making plays this year, and seems to only be getting better. Hopefully he can cause some disruption against the Redskins. On the offensive side of the ball, there are not really any playmakers that are under the radar. WR Devin Aromashodu got a lot of attention late last season, and has shown a couple of flashes when given the opportunity this season. As far as other big-play opportunities, we've got the deep threats in Devin Hester and Johnny Knox, the receiving threat of Matt Forte out of the backfield, and the always-dangerous Greg Olsen at TE. What I would really, really like to see, however, is a couple of guys on the OL step up and really have a breakout game this week. L-R we'll probably have Frank Omiyale Chris Williams Olin Kreutz Edwin Williams J'Marcus Webb... if we can pick up some blitzes andor run block effectively this week, that will be the "big play" possibility that I think most Bears fans would like to see. CSNWhos going to win and why? DNOh boy. Well, the Bears are favored by three points by the folks in Vegas (home field advantage definitely playing into that), but we also have to keep in mind that we've not had a passing TD in three weeks, and our infinitely terrible 3rd down conversion percentages are becoming stuff of legends (340 in the last three games). The defense has shown their "bend but don't break" abilities all year, until last week when the Seahawks were able to finish long drives by getting into the end zone. The Redskins are dead last in the NFL in yards allowed per game (420.0) and 31st in the league in passing yards allowed (298.2), so the opportunity will be there for the Bears to move the ball... it all just depends on what Mike Martz and Mike Tice are able to put together on the OL. Since I can't make heads or tails of anything at this point, I will defer to the Superfans on this one. Bears: 136, Redskins: 0Our friends at Hogs Haven did a Q&A exchange with Windy City Gridiron. Take a look at it here.