Run game helping keep Cutler upright
November, 17, 2010
By Jeff Dickerson | ESPNChicago.com
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. -- There have been few complaints about pass protections the past two weeks for the Chicago Bears.
Scott Boehm/Getty ImagesThe return of Roberto Garza has helped stabilize the Bears' offensive line the past two games.
After surrendering 31 sacks in the first seven games, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was sacked just twice in victories over the Buffalo Bills and Minnesota Vikings.
It's no coincidence those sack totals fell after the Bears began to mix in the run, because when the threat of a running attack exists, opponents think twice about bringing the house at the quarterback.
"I think that [the run] is a large part of it, no question about it," Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz said. "I think on the third downs too, [sacks are] way down. That's a big issue, too. But the offensive line deserves the credit for all of that, really. They've done a remarkable job the last few weeks .
"Having [Roberto] Garza back has made an impact on it, too. I got to tell you, J'Marcus [Webb] is really playing well, he's getting better every week. He's going the direction we hoped he would. He's made startling progress, and hopefully he'll continue to do that stuff."
Some of Webb's improvement can be attributed to Garza returning to right guard, a spot the veteran played for 62 consecutive games before opening up the 2010 campaign at left guard. Garza played on the left side before he was forced to undergo a knee scope, which resulted in the lineman missing the Seattle and Washington games. The Bears allowed 10 sacks in those two matchups.
"You can't really put into words how Roberto helps," Bears center Olin Kreutz told reporters. "With me playing next to him, I know exactly what he's going to do. I don't have to make a million calls for him. And then he helps out J'Marcus a lot."
Fewer seven-step drops, more designed roll-outs and Cutler's ability to move outside the pocket have also helped lead to less sacks. This new-found offensive performance and philosophy will be put to the test in South Florida. Although Miami does a poor job creating turnovers, they really get after the quarterback with 23 sacks this season.