Bears hope to learn through OL adversity

August, 26, 2010
8/26/10
10:03
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[+] EnlargeChris Williams
AP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastThe Bears are trying to figure out if Chris Williams' rough outing against the Raiders was an aberration or cause for concern.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Thirty-seven offensive line protections; choose one.

That must’ve been the prevailing thought in the room Tuesday when offensive coordinator Mike Martz revealed that the Bears carry “37 or more protections” on the offensive line. Perhaps the Bears should’ve pulled one out of the bag to help out quarterback Jay Cutler, who was sacked five times in just two quarters against the Raiders.

The club says it didn’t use any protections against the Cardinals, but isn’t the prospect of the offensive line trying to learn more than 37 different protections somewhat scary, considering the already-complex nature of the scheme itself?

Offensive line coach Mike Tice says there’s nothing to worry about.

“Really, it sounds scarier than it really is,” Tice said. “For example, I can take six protections and group them together -- it's the same rules for everybody -- they're just called different [things with] different personnel on the field, but the same protection. Sometimes you need to go to protections to help players that might’ve been having an off night, and say, ‘OK, let’s major in this protection because we can keep a tight end in [to block].’ All of those things come into play.”

They didn’t against the Raiders, Tice says, for the very same reason the club hasn’t used elaborate protections in practice to neutralize defensive end Julius Peppers, which is to put players in adverse conditions to see how they perform. Tice said he’s trying to learn everything he can about left tackle Chris Williams, who played a major role Saturday in the Raiders’ five-sack night.

“We’ve chosen to let our players work and get better. I’ve only been around Chris for a couple of months, and 3 weeks now in camp. I have to find out all of his weaknesses,” Tice said. “I have to find out where I can help him and where I can get him better. There are gonna be some things with each player that I’m gonna think I can get him better at, and I can’t. I don’t want to ask too much of the players, but I certainly want to push them to the point where they can be better than they think they can.”

Whether Williams needs more pushing remains to be seen, but we’ll find out Saturday night at Soldier Field.

Michael C. Wright

ESPN Chicago Bears reporter

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