Pass Protection Should be the Least of Concerns for the Chicago Bears

By Dominique Blanton

The Chicago Bears came out of Metlife Stadium Friday night with some concerns as they creep closer to the week 1 opener against the Indianapolis Colts. The first team defense struggled in numerous aspects of the game while the offense also had its issues, specifically with timing between the quarterback and wide receivers.

However, for the second week in a row, the Bears pass protection faced a tough task but responded fairly well. In back-to-back weeks, the Bears have faced stiff competition in the Washington Redskins 3-4 front and New York Giants defensive front 4 and performed a decent job against the respected units.

The starting offensive tackles of J’Marcus Webb and Gabe Carimi overall performed well the last two games. Webb has been in a highly publicized competition with former first round draft pick Chris Williams, and in each of the preseason games, he has outplayed Williams.

It hasn’t been announced yet, but we can pretty much assume that Webb has won the competition. Williams will most likely assume the swing tackle role in what possibly could be his last year with the team because his rookie contract expires after this season.

For anyone out there who has been clamoring for Carimi to go back to his old position at left tackle, they might want to reconsider that as he has struggled against the outside speed rush. He hasn’t struggled too much to where he will be a liability on the right side, but enough to prove scouts and draft analysts right that he’s a right tackle at this level.

After shaky play against Redskins outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan a couple of weeks ago, he rebounded with a decent performance against Giants veteran defensive end Justin Tuck this past Friday night. The performance against Tuck indicates to me that Carimi is beginning to trust that surgically repaired knee.

The interior line, which has proven to be an area of strength last year on the offensive line, proved this past Friday that they once again will be that this year. The group stood their ground the past two weeks, giving Jay Cutler a clean pocket to step into throws.

Lance Louis continues to be the Bears’ best interior pass protector this preseason, and after a slow start, Chris Spencer looks to be getting comfortable at left guard. Center Roberto Garza heads the group and has also performed well from a pass protection perspective. Also as a bonus, the running backs and tight ends have chipped in well in blitz pick-ups and helping the OT’s.

While there are some concerns on offense heading into the season opener, pass protection shouldn’t be one of them. Yes, they have to prove it in the regular season, where opposing defensive coordinators will game plan a lot more, but they have proven this preseason that they have the potential to give Cutler time to take advantage of a much improved WR group.

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