Originally written on The Sports Headquarters  |  Last updated 11/5/14

ATLANTA - OCTOBER 18: Quarterback Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears against the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on October 18, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Jay Cutler would ask if there was any “Offensive Line Value of the Bears.”  In fact he didn’t try to deny that the O-Line was poor when asked last year. When he and Running Back Matt Forte got injured there almost was no “Offensive Line Fantasy Value.” The O-Line of the Bears has been a very much maligned group since 2009.  Since 2009, they have allowed the most sacks in the NFL (a whopping 140).  You could put a shotgun quarterback behind the line and they would still have been under duress.  Maybe….. just maybe…… the group of Left Tackle J’Marcus Webb, Left Guard Chris Spencer, Center Roberto Garza, Right Guard Lance Louis and Right Tackle Gabe Carimi can step up in 2012.  They most certainly can’t regress much further.


Left Tackle J’Marcus Webb was drafted in the 7th round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Bears.  He is a monstrous LT at 6’8 and 335 pounds.  Unfortunately he is a bit slow of foot and can get overwhelmed by pass rushers at times.  Often, LG Chris Spencer will have to come over to assist during passing downs.  He needs to play better and the Bears feel that he has the potential to do so.


Left Guard Chris Spencer was taken in the 1st round of the 2005  NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks.  He was originally recruited to be the Center and has Center measurables, but since coming to the Bears in 2011 he has alternated between the Center and Guard positions with Roberto Garza, until Garza seemed to take the reins of the Center position.   Seeing that he can play multiple positions, his versatility is an asset.  He has started in 84 of the 95 games he has taken part in.


Center Roberto Garza was drafted in the 4th round of the 2001 NFL Draft by Atlanta.  He stayed with the Falcons until 2004 when he signed on with the Bears.  Originally a Guard, he became the starting Center in 2011.  He is a sound technician with brute strength.  He counteracts the various moves well that Defensive players will use to try to beat him. He is a well known community presence and humanitarian.


Right Guard Lance Louis was selected by the Bears in the 7th round of the 2009 NFL Draft.  He is a bulky Guard but has surprising speed for a man his size.  He can play RG or RT due to his athleticism.  Louis is known for being extremely mean on the field and plays with a big chip on his shoulder.  At his Pro Day, he ran a sub 4.8 40 yard dash at over 300 pounds.


Right Tackle Gabe Carimi was taken in the 1st round by the Bears in the 2011 NFL Draft.  The Bears like to employ mountainous Tackles and he is no exception at 6’7.  He has huge hands and when he locks onto defenders they have a difficult time extricating themselves from his clutches.  His NFL career has not really taken off yet as he suffered a season ending knee injury in the 2nd game of the year.  He credits Karate, in which he is a Black Belt for giving him focus and determination.


Now to analyze the numbers…..


The Bears ranked 24th in total Run Blocking in 2011 allowing the Running Backs to gain 4.39 yards per carry. which was slightly above the NFL average of 4.31 yards per carry.  Their RB’s were stopped at/or behind the line 24% of their attempts which ranked 30th in the NFL.  The NFL average is 19%.  Their RB’s experienced success on 3rd or 4th down runs 61% of the time which was slightly below the NFL average of 62%.  The Bears are committed to running the ball as they ran the rock 410 times in 2011.  41% of their runs were Center/Guard runs.  The Bears experienced their least success running behind the RT position as they only achieved 3.53 yards per carry.  They did however, experience much more success running behind J’Marcus Webb as they averaged 4.54 yards per carry.  To summarize, Matt Forte and company had many decent gains but also some poor ones which was mostly due to a sub-par O-Line.  Forte is an above average talent so hypothetically speaking, if the Offensive Line were to have a mediocre Running Back behind them, things most probably would have been worse.  From a Fantasy perspective, the Bears obtained Michael Bush from the Raiders in the offseason so expectations for Matt Forte should be tempered.  Look for the running game to continue it’s value under new coordinator Mike Tice who loves to run the ball, but Forte will definitely get less work this year.  This situation calls for a “handcuff”.  If you draft Forte in the early rounds, try to get Bush later.


Chicago ranked 31st in Pass Protection allowing Jay Cutler and his backups to be sacked on 9.8% of dropbacks.  The NFL average was 6.7%.  This is unacceptable but the Bears did not address the Offensive Line in 2012.  Look for Brandon Marshall to rediscover the magic that he and Cutler had in the old Broncos days.  Marshall should be a lock to be the first Bears receiver to reach 1000 yards since 2002.  Also brought in to allow Cutler to have more options was 2nd round Draftee Alshon Jeffery, a tall WR with tangible skills for speed and jumping.  Tight End Kellen Davis should also see a slight uptick in statistical value as Mike Tice will most definitely use him more than Mike Martz did previously.  If the Offensive Line can provide a few more moments to allow Cutler to evaluate his options, the Bears will have a decent year.


Next team is the Cincinnati Bengals


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