Found September 03, 2013 on
New Orleans Saints
New York Jets
13-year veteran Roberto Garza is the only current Chicago Bears’ offensive lineman who was on the active roster to start the 2012 season.
The 34-year old center was joined on the 53-man roster by guard James Brown and tackle Jonathan Scott after the season opening win against the Indianapolis Colts.
Starters Jermon Bushrod, Matt Slauson, Kyle Long, Jordan Mills and reserves Eben Britton and Taylor Boggs are seven new faces along the Bears’ offensive line this season. They replaced underachievers Gabe Carimi, Lance Louis, Chris Williams, J’Marcus Webb, Edwin Williams, Chris Spencer and Chilo Rachal.
The overhaul at the position was much needed and can only do new Bears’ offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Aaron Kromer wonders.
The first Bears’ depth chart was released on Tuesday as it listed the starting five in front of Cutler: LT Jermon Bushrod, LG Matt Slauson, C Roberto Garza, RG Kyle Long, RT Jordan Mills.
Obviously the signing of 29-year old Pro Bowl left tackle Jermon Bushrod was huge for the entire offense. Quarterback Jay Cutler was lacking a good blocker on his blindside.
Way too often was he taken down for a sack with J’Marcus Webb protecting him the past couple of seasons. He was sacked a league high 52 times in 2010. The last two seasons he was sacked a total of 61 times. Bushrod will not only be huge for Jay Cutler, but he will be a big help for running back Matt Forte especially on passing downs.
Aaron Kromer coached Bushrod in New Orleans the past four seasons, so he certainly knows how to utilize him. Kromer coming into town to help groom the Bears’ offensive is a big deal. He has a very good track record in this league.
The decision to start two rookies along the right side of the offensive line was crafted by Kromer. As soon as three-year starter J’Marcus Webb started to struggle at right tackle, Kromer made a move. He made a bold statement by replacing Webb with rookie Jordan Mills, who the Bears selected in the fifth round of this year’s draft.
A battle between second-year guard James Brown and rookie Kyle Long was going on during training camp. However, Long quickly proved he was the better start despite his inexperience at the college level.
Long was named to the all-preseason team by Pro Football Focus for his consistent play through four exhibition games.
You have to be impressed by the solid play of Long and Mills. They were both plugged into the lineup for the most important preseason games and proved their worthy to start.
This Sunday marks the first time the Bears will start two rookie offensive linemen (Long, Mills) in the season opener since 1983.
Five-year veteran Matt Slauson was signed this off-season after the New York Jets opted not to re-sign him. The 6’5″, 315 lb Nebraska product is a very nasty blocker, who doesn’t show fear in the trenches. He is certainly an upgrade over Lance Louis.
Center Roberto Garza is certainly the weakest part of the offensive line. At age 34, Garza doesn’t have much left in the tank. But what he lacks in skills he makes up for with veteran leadership. He is a great locker room presence. He took over that role after the Olin Kreutz era ended in 2011.
Second-year guard James Brown and fifth-year tackle Eben Britton are both versatile linemen who can play almost any position along the offensive line. Brown showed plenty of promise in 2012, while Britton has a chance to be a solid guard if need be.
Jonathan Scott was a nice surprise last season. He started seven games at right tackle and proved he had plenty left in the tank. He hasn’t practiced much this preseason, but is starting to take part in individual drills since having his knee scoped (. The Bears trusted a banged up Scott over the up-and-down Webb, who was released on August 30. Lets see if the move pays off.
Taylor Boggs was kept as the ninth lineman. He is a second-year center, who can also play both guard positions and help on special teams.
Overall, the major changes the Bears have made along the offensive line will only be a benefit for this entire offense.
Week One against the Cincinnati Bengals will be a huge test for this unit especially for the rookies Long and Mills.
Jake Perper is the founder and head writer of Bearsbacker.com. Follow him on Twitter, @Bearsbacker and on Facebook for up to the minute news about the Chicago Bears.
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