Thursday, Sept, 15, 2011Posted: 10:45 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com Bears Insider Follow @CSNMoonMullin
Right tackle Gabe Carimi declared during this years NFL Scouting Combine that he considered himself the best of the tackles in this draft class. If you back it up, its not bragging.

And Carimi wasnt bragging.

I didnt feel out-matched, Carimi said. I feel like I can have a solid game against opponents.

The performances of Carimi and bookend partner JMarcus Webb, against two of the better defensive-end rushers in the NFC, were definitely not out-matched.

The record will show quarterback Jay Cutler sacked five times by the Atlanta Falcons defense. That record will not be the full story.

Only two of the sacks were directly traceable to failures on the offensive line, following a trend that began almost unnoticed last season when the O-line became a punch line and punching bag after the debacle against New York on national TV.

This becomes particularly significant for two crucial reasons:

Elite competition

The performances, particularly those of young tackles Carimi and Webb, came against Atlanta defensive ends John Abraham and Ray Edwards, who accounted for a combined 21 sacks in 2010.

They will face few more difficult end tandems this season.

I felt good, Webb said. My coaches and teammates felt good about me and supported me. Mistakes are going to be made and youve got to learn from it and give it your all the next time.

The next time comes Sunday in New Orleans against two defensive ends Jeff Charleston, Turk McBride who each have fewer career sacks than Edwards alone had last season.

 

Domino effect

The second major reason is because tackles who can handle their edges, without jury-rigging the protections to cover for or help, loom as perhaps the single biggest difference between the Mike Martz offense of 2010 (30th yardage, 21st in scoring) and the one that put 23 points against an Atlanta defense that ranked fifth in the league in scoring defense.

The ability of the tackles to handle Abraham, Edwards and reserve Lawrence Sidbury was vital in freeing Matt Forte to get out of the backfield and into the passing game. Indeed, 14 of Cutlers 32 pass attempts went to running backs and tight ends, two for TDs.

They played well; those guys played well, Cutler said. They have to continue to do well.

Can you hear me?

The noise of the Superdome has been amply chronicled. Theres certain parts of the field youre not going to be able to hear a thing, line coach Mike Tice.

The task, particularly for young players like Carimi and Webb (Roberto Garza and guards Chris Spencer and Chris Williams have a combined 234 NFL starts), is to dial down the angst that comes with not being able to hear. That situation is exacerbated for players out on edges.

The bottom line is youre not going to be able to hear crap, Tice said. Were going to get edgy. Hopefully on those plays where we get edgy, we get the ball out fast Hopefully there wont be too many of those.

Youve got to talk them off the roof. Its happened and itll happen long as footballs football. You just dont want to compound errors.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.