Thanks to all of you for bearing with this week's schedule changes, which included a SportsNation chat on Thursday instead of Tuesday. (Warning: We're looking at another change next week with the Minnesota Vikings' minicamp set to kick off Tuesday.)
Our discussion Thursday veered a number of interesting ways and will provide some fodder for the slow weeks to come. For now, I thought I would share with the group our exchanges on the Chicago Bears' competition at left tackle between J'Marcus Webb and Chris Williams:
Who wins the Bears LT competition? Webb or Williams?
Kevin Seifert (3:32 PM)
I think they want Webb to win it. If [offensive coordinator Mike] Tice thought Williams could do the job, he wouldn't have moved him to guard a few years ago.
Ron (Elburn, IL)
Kevin, I think that Chris Williams has a legitimate shot at LT. He was only moved because [Frank] Omiyale could not play LG, Then last year they wanted to keep him in one spot. With the depth at guard, I think they felt 2012 was a good time to let him back at it.
Kevin Seifert (3:44 PM)
I don't agree. You don't move a productive left tackle out of that position if he is in fact productive. It's much easier to find a guy to play guard than tackle. It was a reflection on Chris to a large extent.
The background of my thought process: Tice moved Williams to left guard about halfway through his first season (2010) as the Bears' offensive line coach. At the time, it seemed the Bears didn't want to disrupt the chemistry the line had developed while Williams was recovering from a hamstring injury. Omiyale remained the left tackle and Williams took the opening created at left guard.
My thought remains that left tackle is the toughest line position to fill, and there is little to no chance that an NFL team would move out a player it considered a long-term starter because its left guard (Omiyale) is struggling. It's more than reasonable to think the Bears were ambivalent at best about Williams as a left tackle at that point.
Has anything changed since then? I'm guessing not. Webb is the player Tice has committed to in the past. Competing with Williams could make him better, or it could reveal that he too is not a long-term answer.
I can't rule out the possibility that Williams will win the job, but it stands to reason that he is not the Bears' first choice.