Chicago Bears: Offensive Line

Kyle Long explains missed assignment

September, 10, 2013
Chicago Bears first-round draft pick Kyle Long likened his on-the-job training in the team's win over Cincinnati on Sunday to what puppies go through when being housebroken.

On Chicago’s third play from scrimmage, Long missed a blocking assignment on a blitz, which allowed Carlos Dunlap to slam through the offensive line to pressure quarterback Jay Cutler. Immediately after the play ended, Long heard an earful from center Roberto Garza.

“Obviously, that came up in film,” Long said Tuesday during the “Carmen & Jurko Show” on ESPN 1000. “We just tried to work through that, which is why Garza was instructing me after the play. He’s very good about that. It’s like when you’re training a puppy, when the dog pees on the ground, you want to make sure you get on him right now and let him know that’s it’s wrong. You say, ‘This is where you pee. This is where you don’t pee.’ That’s kind of what Garza was doing, training extremely large puppies the last few weeks.”

Aside from that miscommunication and a couple more minor instances, the Bears held their own against the Cincinnati Bengals along the offensive line. Cutler came out of the game without suffering any sacks, but he was pressured once and hit on one other occasion.

The quarterback also scrambled three times for 16 yards.

Overall, Long “wasn’t very happy with my performance,” but was encouraged by the “resilience” the team showed in overcoming an 11-point deficit, as well as the club’s final drive, in which the Bears salted away the final 6 minutes, 38 seconds to preserve the come-from-behind victory.

Long also went into detail about how he missed the blitz pickup on Chicago’s third play from scrimmage.

“At the beginning of the game, we got a certain look and I saw the linebacker stacked over the guard bubble, which is over me, and there was a nose tackle and a defensive end,” Long explained. “I’m supposed to look to the middle linebacker to the defensive end, and if the middle linebacker comes up, then I get the middle linebacker. If the defensive end comes, I get the end. I just had my eyes stuck on [Bengals middle linebacker] Rey Maualuga. That’s on me.”

Emery explains factors in Webb's release

September, 3, 2013
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- During a wide-ranging news conference lasting more than 30 minutes on Monday, Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery touched on some of the factors that led to the release of former starting right tackle J'Marcus Webb.

From the sounds of it, the Bears wanted Webb to win the job more than he wanted to seize it.

“Really, for J’Marcus, he had played, I will say that 14 out of the 16 games last year he was sufficient or better. He had a lot of good games in that we grade sufficient, good, very good. Fourteen out of those 16, they were at least at the sufficient level, which you can win with that player and his performance on that particular day. Two of them were below that line. The obvious games were the first Green Bay game and the San Francisco game,” Emery explained. “Coming into this fall, we were very optimistic that he was going to be our starting right tackle and would continue to improve as a player. He never gained the consistency, that sufficient level of consistency that we want out of our players. So at the end, his performance wasn’t to our expectation level that we felt we needed to move forward with it.”

When the Bears made the decision to cut Webb, I touched on the offensive tackle’s lack of motivation and inconsistency, which goes all the way back to his college days. One former Bears coach described Webb as the classic underachiever.

“He’s not motivated to be great,” the coach said. “He’s got good ability, enough to be a solid starter in the league. But he lacks passion.”

That’s now an issue for the Minnesota Vikings to deal with, as they claimed him off waivers to provide depth.

Emery didn’t anticipate Webb giving away many of Chicago’s secrets on offense.

“I don’t know if we’ve gotten that far in our game planning for J’Marcus to be able to share those,” Emery said. “I’m sure he’ll share some basics, just like what is natural. We’ll always ask the basics.”

Bears sign Johnson-Webb to practice squad

September, 2, 2013
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears completed their practice squad Monday by signing offensive tackle Jamaal Johnson-Webb, an undrafted free agent from Alabama A&M.

Pro Football Weekly’s 2013 draft preview described Johnson-Webb’s positives as “ideal length in body and arms forms an excellent frame. Sees the blitz and adjusts to movement. Can engulf and cover up defenders in the run game. Very light-footed, durable and experienced.”

In terms of negatives, the magazine said, “body is smooth-muscled and underdeveloped. Leg drive can improve. Did not dominate against lower-level competition. Pass-pro technique is raw -- opens shoulders out of the gate. Only one year of prep football. Bench-pressed 225 pounds only 17 times at the combine, tied for the lowest among OT participants.”

Johnson-Webb came into the NFL with the Arizona Cardinals, which made the offensive tackle one of their final cuts.

Johnson-Webb started 45 games over four seasons at Alabama A&M, and earned all-SWAC first-team honors as a senior.

Four Downs: Time to worry about offense?

August, 12, 2013
Jay Cutler AP Photo/Bob LeveroneWill Jay Cutler and the Bears have the offense in working order by the first regular season game?
With just one preseason game in the books, how much do we know about the state of the Bears offense or the offensive line's makeup?

Our panel weighs in on that and more:

First Down

Fact or Fiction: Through two and a half weeks of camp and one preseason game, the Bears should be concerned about their offensive execution.

Jeff Dickerson: Fact: Whenever a new offense is installed there are naturally going to be concerns, especially coming off a disastrous 2012 season on offense. There is ample skill-position talent on the roster for Jay Cutler to spread the ball around to, but for whatever reason, the offense hasn’t looked all that sharp in practice since camp opened up in late July. Far too often Cutler has been intercepted, either due to his error or a miscue by the intended receiver. The Bears can’t turn the ball over if they expect to win. There is also the uncertainty on the offensive line, which will continue to be a cause for concern until the final starting five is set sometime around the third preseason game. And even when the No. 1 line is penciled in, are the Bears comfortable starting two rookies on the right side in the event Jordan Mills hangs onto the job? To be fair, the Bears haven’t really been able to run the ball in the preseason. If the ground game can get cooking with Matt Forte and Michael Bush, then no matter what happens with the other stuff, the Bears will have a chance to be decent on offense. But simply based on what we’ve seen so far, the offense has a long way to go before it will be ready to handle whatever the Cincinnati Bengals offense throws at them in Week 1.

[+] EnlargeJay Cutler and Marc Trestman
AP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastMarc Trestman's new offense is a work in progress.

Michael C. Wright: Fiction. Not any more concerned than anyone else around the league is at this point of the year. It's important to remember that the Bears are executing a brand new offense, and the truth is the first-teamers executed fairly well against the Carolina Panthers. In 10 snaps, Cutler completed 6 of 8 for 56 yards with a passer rating of 54.2, which was knocked down quite a few points due to the interception he threw on the first play of the game. Of those 10 plays, nine of them turned out to be passes, although Bears coach Marc Trestman later revealed that he called more runs than what was actually executed. This could be viewed as a positive. Cutler checked out of some of the runs to put the Bears in more advantageous situations to throw the ball, based on several factors. Judging from his completion percentage (75), Cutler was making the correct checks. So signs indicate Cutler is figuring out things, and that's exactly what the Bears want from their quarterback at this point in the preseason.

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Jonathan BosticAP Photo/Nam Y. HuhRookie linebacker Jon Bostic drew positive reviews for his play-calling on Thursday.
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears held out linebacker Lance Briggs (rest) for Thursday's practice, thrusting rookie second-round pick Jon Bostic -- who was filling in for injured middle linebacker D.J. Williams -- into the role of playcaller on defense.

Bostic drew positive reviews for his first day making the calls.

"He did very very well," defensive end Julius Peppers said. "We're going to need him. We hope Lance doesn't go down, but he could. All of us could go down. So whenever somebody goes down, the next player has to be up. So we've got to get him ready because we might need him one of those games."

The Bears could wind up needing Bostic sooner than originally anticipated. The club drafted Bostic with the expectation he would spend 2013 learning behind Williams, a 10-year veteran, who at one time was considered one of the NFL's most talented middle linebackers. Williams suffered a strained right calf on Wednesday, and the prognosis given by the team has been "week to week," which means the injury could linger.

"I really don't look at it as getting thrown in the fire," Bostic said. "I'm out there with a lot of guys I've pretty much watched on TV the last 10 or 12 years, however long I’ve been watching football. To be in there with them, I’ve got to pick it up. I've got to go out there and make sure I'm in my playbook off the field so I'm not making any mistakes when I'm out there."

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Gabe CarimiJonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesGabe Carimi has opted to stay in Arizona and train rather than take part on Bears OTAs.
Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery took the diplomatic route Wednesday when asked about Gabe Carimi's absence from the team's organized team activities.

Carimi missed OTA sessions on Monday and Tuesday, the first two workouts of 10 league-mandated OTAs, and was the only player on the team eligible to attend who did not.

"This is a voluntary situation, and every player has to make his own decisions," Emery told Sirius XM NFL Radio. "Gabe has made a decision. He wants to stay in Arizona and train. We respect that, and we'll welcome (him) with open arms when he comes back."

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Video: Biggest concern for Bears?

May, 15, 2013

Herm Edwards says the offense is the biggest concern for the Bears and discusses how QB Jay Cutler can have a successful season.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Here's a look at the Chicago Bears' fifth-round pick, offensive tackle Jordan Mills of Louisiana Tech.

Mills started every game over his last two seasons at Louisiana Tech, and was named All-WAC first team during his senior season.


How would you grade the Bears' selection of Louisiana Tech OT Jordan Mills?


Discuss (Total votes: 4,392)

Strengths: Beyond his physical gifts, Mills possesses the type of attitude that will endear him to the coaching staff, according to multiple scouting reports. Mills is considered a hard worker in the weight room and in the classroom, and scouts rave about his dedication to the game. With the Bears looking for more athletic offensive linemen, Mills makes for an ideal fit because he possesses the speed to get up to linebackers and the coordination to block efficiently in space.

Weaknesses: Played against inferior competition at Louisiana Tech most of the time. Allows defenders to get into his body on occasion and lacks flexibility, which at this point may be something he can improve upon with refined technique. Has a tendency to lose leverage because he plays too high. Because Mills played in a spread offense in college, Mills will probably take time to adjust to NFL blocking schemes.

By the numbers: Mills is 6-foot-5 and weighs 316 pounds. He ran a 5.37-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. His arms are 34 inches long and his hands measured 9 inches. To compare, Bears’ first-round pick Kyle Long’s hands measured 11 inches, and his arms were 33 3/8 inches.

What it means: The Bears have fully committed to protecting their most valuable asset on offense: Jay Cutler. For years the Bears seemed to neglect the offensive line, and instead focused on the defense. When the team did use draft picks to select offensive linemen, the players didn’t pan out. So by using this draft to add to more offensive linemen to the three the club acquired in free agency, the Bears give themselves more chances to uncover players who can contribute right away.

Familiar foe: Mills is a cousin of Green Bay Packers cornerback Tramon Williams, but don’t think for a minute he plans to take it easy on him when the clubs meet twice a year.

“If somebody breaks a long touchdown, even though that’s my cousin and I love him, that’s not gonna be good for him,” Mills said.

Next: The Bears swapped picks with Atlanta in the fifth round, giving the Falcons the 153rd pick in exchange for No. 163. In return, Chicago acquired the Falcons’ 7th-round pick (236). The Bears entered the weekend without a seventh rounder. In the sixth round, the Bears hold the 188th overall pick.

Kyle Long made most of his chances

April, 26, 2013
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- New Chicago Bears guard Kyle Long readily admits his meteoric rise up the draft charts to the 20th overall pick Thursday wouldn’t have been possible without an invitation to the Senior Bowl.

[+] EnlargeKyle Long
John Green/CSM/ AP ImagesKyle Long lacks experience but has top-shelf physical tools.
But now that he’s here, the plan is to make the organization and fan base thankful for making the decision, despite limited experience (five games) as a starter at Oregon.

“If it weren’t for the invite to the Senior Bowl that I got the opportunity to play against the elite competition that was there, I’d probably still be waiting around,” Long said.

He’s probably correct. Still, there’s no denying the buzz Long created in the scouting community with a few dominant workouts at the Senior Bowl, despite missing practice time due to a bout with the flu. Long’s performance made already-interested teams want to look deeper.

Of all the teams poking and prodding at Long during the pre-draft process, the Bears, he said, had done the most homework.

Perhaps the work wouldn’t have even been done by the Bears if not for a little persistence last season on Long’s part.

Rotating at offensive tackle with Tyler Johnstone in 2012, Long didn’t make his first start until Nov. 13 at USC. At first, Long was fine with the rotation because Oregon’s uptempo offensive attack produced so many snaps that it allowed him to play 45 to 50 snaps per game. Long felt that was sufficient enough for him to build game film for a shot at the NFL.

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Howie Long glad his son headed to Chicago

April, 26, 2013
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Hall of Fame defensive end Howie Long couldn't be happier to see his son land in Chicago.

"This is to me one of the crown-jewel franchises in football," Howie Long said Friday after his son Kyle, an offensive lineman, was chosen with the Bears’ first pick. "There’s not a lot of them. The town, the history of the organization, the great players who’ve played here, the expectations in the building, it’s important.

“And it doesn’t hurt to have a franchise quarterback, much as that pains me to say.”

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Bears agree with Jermon Bushrod

March, 12, 2013
The Chicago Bears reached agreement Tuesday to sign former New Orleans Saints offensive tackle Jermon Bushrod to a five-year contract worth $35.9 million ($17.7 million guaranteed), according to a league source, completing what might be viewed as a productive opening day of free agency.

The deal will make Bushrod the highest paid offensive lineman in team history.

Read the entire story.

Five areas the Bears need to address

January, 21, 2013
BearsAP Photo/Bill FeigThe offensive line, including Roberto Garza (63) and Chris Spencer (67), struggled to protect Jay Cutler.

With Senior Bowl practices scheduled to get underway this week in Mobile, Ala., let’s take a brief look at certain position groups the Chicago Bears might look to address in the upcoming NFL draft or free agency.

1. Offensive line: Let’s just lump the entire offensive line together since it likely requires a significant amount of work. Here is what we know -- Lance Louis has been at Halas Hall this offseason rehabbing the anterior cruciate ligament injury he suffered last November against the Minnesota Vikings. If the Bears are satisfied that Louis is on track to make a full recovery, it stands to reason the club would either re-sign the versatile offensive lineman to a new deal or tag him. It’s unknown whether or not Louis will be ready to return at the beginning of next season, but even if he is forced to miss a small amount of time, the Bears will be much better off with a healthy Louis at right guard at some point in 2013. At his end of the year press conference Bears general manager Phil Emery spoke highly of veteran Jonathan Scott (scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent), who started five of the last six games at right tackle, and former undrafted rookie James Brown, who got his feet wet in the final three games at left guard. Emery also said 33-year old center Roberto Garza was “solid,” but the Bears need to figure out a long-term solution at the position, although Garza does keep himself in excellent physical shape. It’s clear the Bears need to attempt to upgrade one, if not both, of their offensive tackles, and probably find at least one guard. Granted, that’s a ton of work to one area of the team in a single offseason, but after neglecting to address the line last year on the heels of two bad first-round picks at tackle, the Bears find themselves in a tough situation. New Bears head coach Marc Trestman mentioned several times the need to protect quarterback Jay Cutler, which seems to indicate he too views the offensive line as a weak spot that needs to be fixed.

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Chicago Bears offensive lineJoe Camporeale/US Presswire

Unless you watch every snap of every game, it's nigh on impossible to evaluate offensive line play. You can infer some things from numbers, but that can often lead to incorrect conclusions.

For example, logic would say that Aaron Rodgers getting sacked the most of any quarterback means he has the worst pass-protecting line, right? Except that conclusion overlooks the fact eight of those sacks were due to Rodgers' decisions and another two were the results of skill position players not picking up the pass rush. It also doesn't consider the fact Rodgers is guilty of having the sixth-highest average time to sack (from when the ball is snapped) of any player in the league.

With our game charting and grading, however, Pro Football Focus accounts for those factors. And that is why the Packers are the 11th-ranked pass-blocking line in our rankings.

This season, we've seen how poor line play can totally cripple a team -- not to mention a quarterback. But which are the best and worst lines in the league? Let's take a look.

The maulers -- San Francisco 49ers

In our pass protection rankings, the 49ers could only finish 12th. Yet their run blocking is so much better than any other team that they're comfortably our top graded line out there.

You could really pick out any member of the unit and call them a star, with every one building a case toward a Pro Bowl or even All Pro nod. For me the star of the unit is Joe Staley. Yes he's given up six sacks, but look past that. He's given up just 19 total quarterback disruptions on 384 rushes and has a run-block grade that puts all other tackles to shame.

Read the entire story.

Coach's big decision: Carimi's best spot

December, 1, 2012
[+] EnlargeGabe Carimi
Dennis Wierzbicki/US PresswireThe Bears' Gabe Carimi will fill in at guard this week against the Seahawks.
One game shouldn’t determine the future for Chicago Bears offensive lineman Gabe Carimi, who was drafted in the first round of 2011 originally to play tackle, but will start at left guard for the injured Lance Louis on Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks. Still, Carimi’s performance in this outing could lead to the staff pondering whether guard is the spot for the second-year veteran moving into the offseason.

Offensive coordinator Mike Tice pointed to 2004 second-overall pick Robert Gallery as an example of a player drafted to play tackle, and eventually moved inside to guard. But it would be shortsighted for the Bears to seriously consider a similar move long-term for Carimi, who was demoted as the starting right tackle last week, if he plays well at guard against the Seahawks.

Carimi might serve as a temporary fix for the rest of the 2012 season, but beyond that he needs to be given another shot at right tackle.

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Bears not sweating shuffling their OL

November, 28, 2012
Gabe Carimi, Erin HendersonJonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesGabe Carimi figures to start at right guard against the Seahawks a week after being benched at right tackle.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- While it's uncommon to lose a pair of starters on the offensive line in the same game the way Chicago did Sunday during its win over the Minnesota Vikings, the Bears aren't exactly novices at dealing with attrition up front.

Perhaps that's why Bears quarterback Jay Cutler didn't hesitate when stating what needs to take place Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks in order for the offensive line to experience success.

"We've just got to be careful of what we ask those guys to do, make sure they're on the same page, (and) protect them," Cutler said. "You don't want to throw a lot of sevens (seven-step drops) and chuck the ball 40-50 times. They're not programmed for it. They're in new positions. Some guys haven't even played guard. We've just got to be smart with it."

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