Offensive line's effort 'not acceptable'

August, 22, 2010
8/22/10
12:59
AM ET
CHICAGO -- The Bears finally dropped their ultra-optimistic viewpoint, opting for reality Saturday after a quick self-analysis in the aftermath of Jay Cutler suffering five sacks in a 32-17 loss.

Staring down at a lectern, wearing a blue cardigan sweater and jeans, Cutler was asked whether five sacks against the Raiders were too much.

“Clearly, that is too much,” he said. “It’s definitely not going to be acceptable.”

It shouldn’t be if the Bears plan on bettering the 7-9 record they earned last season, when Cutler quietly -- without the slightest hint of complaint -- survived a career-high 35 sacks.

Raiders’ defenders Tommy Kelly and Kamerion Wimbley dropped Cutler for sacks Saturday on the Bears’ first two passing plays. Wimbley, who tallied 6.5 sacks all last season with the Cleveland Browns, notched four in just a half against Chicago, with most of them coming on matchups with Bears left tackle Chris Williams

An outside linebacker, Wimbley made three sacks against Williams, before beating a double team inside for another sack.

[+] EnlargeChris Williams
AP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastThe Raiders' Matt Shaughnessy fights off a block by the Bears' Chris Williams on Saturday.
“What day is it, the 21st?” Williams asked, nonchalantly. “Yeah we still have time [to improve]. Obviously, I didn't play well tonight. But I'll just keep working. It's not time to pout or be sad. We got Detroit in [the regular-season opener] in three weeks. So when the real show starts, we'll be ready."

The truth is the Bears don’t appear to have much more time to shore up the offensive line. Since the offseason, the club -- under the direction of new offensive line coach Mike Tice -- has experimented with several looks, using a variety of players. The Bears devoted most of their focus to solidifying the guard spot, before finally settling on Roberto Garza at left guard and Lance Louis on the right side.

The club considered Williams -- who is regarded as the team’s most talented pass protector -- the least of its worries. Williams started 11 games at right tackle last season, before moving to the left side for five outings.

Bears coach Lovie Smith said the team won’t open up Williams’ position for competition, but expressed disappointment in the third-year veteran’s performance.

“Not good enough; it’s as simple as that,” Smith said. “Whenever you give up a couple of sacks as an offensive lineman, [it’s] not good. Chris is a better player than that.”

According to Williams’ teammates, he wasn’t the only Bears lineman to struggle. Wimbley’s sack totals just made Williams’ mishaps more visible. Cutler said the unit made the correct adjustments and were “technically in the right spots”, but beaten physically on some occasions. Veteran center Olin Kreutz, said the line -- which helped running back Matt Forte finish with 109 yards on five attempts -- needs to improve on some of the intricacies of the position to gain the needed cohesion.

“Obviously, that’s one point of view,” Kreutz said of Cutler’s assessment. “From another point of view, there’s little things we have to learn [about ] playing together: knowing where your help is, knowing where you’re supposed to help, and we had some of that break down tonight. Everybody was on their guy, and maybe we got beat. ”

“It’s not like we gave up five in San Diego [in the opener]. This is one game; we’re not happy with it. We have a lot to improve on and we know that.”

Cutler wasn’t overly concerned with the situation, and refrained from adding to the criticism, knowing the line would heap plenty on itself.

“The offensive line is probably a little disappointed in [itself],” he said. “But it’s the second preseason game, and we have a lot of time to make corrections. It wasn’t like they were completely busting protections.”

Yet if it continues, Cutler will definitely be taking a busting this season.

Michael C. Wright

ESPN Chicago Bears reporter

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