Friday, Sept. 30, 2011
Posted: 11:00 p.m.
By John Mullin and Jake Flannigan
Work ethic up front
Injuries could be used as an excuse for the inconsistency of the Bears offensive line this season. The line that faced off with the Green Bay Packers was missing two of its five starters.
Lack of experience together would be an alibi too. Roberto Garza, Frank Omiyale, Chris Spencer and Chris Williams, four of the five starters vs. Green Bay, all have a minimum of three years on an NFL roster. But that group, plus left tackle JMarcus Webb had never started a game together and was the third different starting offensive line in three games.
But offensive line coach Mike Tice has decided to forgo the blame game and stick to what he knows best.
Were not in here having barbecues and stuff like that at night, Tice said. We just have to keep working. Its a long haul and we got to get better.
No group has been more closely watched than the offensive line, with ample reason. They collectively have Jay Cutlers health and Matt Fortes rushing production in their hands.
After giving up five sacks to the Atlanta Falcons, the line allowed zero in the first half at New Orleans even without Lance Louis (ankle injury). The Saints got one sack (a huge one on a missed block by tight end Kellen Davis) in the third quarter after Gabe Carimi went down with a knee injury.
Without both Carimi and Louis against Green Bay, the first half again was sack-free on 17 drop-backs against a defense that had sacked Cutler 11 times in 10 quarters last season.
Tice genuinely believes his changes have been improving. But he also knows the teams overall lack of success has made it tough for outsiders to look past sacks, pressures and a run game that has averaged just three yards per carry and has zero TD runs through three games.
The 0-3 Kansas City Chiefs are the only other NFL team without a rushing touchdown this season.
There are some guys that are playing pretty good, Tice said. They kind of get lost in the sauce a little bit because of losses, and because of the non-rhythmic look we have sometimes.
The relationship between Tice and offensive coordinator Mike Martz may be a mysterious one for those not in blue and orange on Sundays. For Tice its simple.
Stay out of the way and focus on letting the line know what went right and what didnt.
During the course of a game you dont really want to get too much communication with the coordinator, Tice said. We talk after every series. You really dont want to mess with the guy thats trying to call the plays and get into a rhythm. Thats not a good thing to do.
Instead, Tice tries to stay off of the headphones and find ways to improve his group by looking over Polaroids of the previous series.
Normally thats what the job of an offensive line coach is, Tice said. Hes kind of a fix-it guy during the course of a game.
Besides Joe Theisman, Jim Mora and Willie McGinest, the fourth member of the analysts on NFL Networks No Huddle Show Friday was former Rams wide receiver Torry Holt, not Marcellus Wiley as mentioned in yesterdays roundup.
Much of the Mike Martz approach to offense is geared toward passing yardage for the quarterback. Cutler has passed for 300 yards six times as a Bear; the Bears have lost four of those six games, including last Sundays to Green Bay. The Denver Broncos were 5-5 in 300-yard Cutler passing games.
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.