A couple of years ago, a now high-ranking talent evaluator took multiple scouting trips to see offensive tackle J'Marcus Webb, only to find him unavailable every time.
He’s got this, the evaluator was told, or he’s out doing that.
Naturally, the scout started digging.
Upon intensive vetting of Webb on two college campuses, the scout came away with two thoughts: 1) Because of Webb’s immense talent, people always made excuses for him, and 2) despite all of that talent, Webb lacked the motivation to consistently deliver the focus and intensity that teams depend on.
Perhaps that was foreshadowing for Friday, when Webb, who played at West Texas A&M, said on his Twitter account that the Bears had released him. His three-year stint was marked by up-and-down performances in 32 consecutive starts at left tackle. One day, Webb made you think he could be the club’s future at left tackle. The next, an angry Jay Cutler was in his face doing whatever he could to motivate Webb, who smiled last season in the midst of a trouncing at Lambeau Field.
With a new general manager in Phil Emery -- who didn't draft Webb and had no vested interest in him -- and a new coach in Marc Trestman, it quickly became apparent Webb wouldn’t last. His marijuana arrest in February -- although charges were dropped -- didn't help, either.
After the first part of camp and the preseason opener at Carolina, a game in which Webb gave up a sack to Charles Johnson from his spot at right tackle, he had basically punched his own ticket out of town, although it seemed the staff wanted to give him another opportunity to catch on as a reserve.
When the Bears returned to camp, Trestman demoted Webb to second team in favor of rookie fifth-round pick Jordan Mills.
“He’s had good days, and not so good days,” Trestman said of Webb after the Panthers game. “He hasn’t been as consistent as we’d like. We’ve told him that. When he’s on his game, he can be very good.”
The problem is nobody knows how to keep Webb on his game. After demoting Webb, the team cut his pay to the veteran minimum for a player with his tenure.
Apparently that wasn't motivational, either.
Make no mistake: Webb, 25, still possesses immense physical skills, gifts that are more than sufficient for him to be an NFL starter for years to come.
But it’s all of little consequence if nobody can coax them out consistently. The Bears finally realized this, and acted accordingly.