The Chicago Bears evaluation series continues on with a look at the offensive line. Does this unit need a complete overhaul in the offseason or are there some pieces to build on? Let us take a look at how the offensive tackles and interior line graded out for the 2012 season.
After being public enemy number one by Bears fans the past couple of seasons, Webb overall had an okay season for the Bears at left tackle. According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Webb graded out as the 44th best OT. He gave up seven sacks (tied for 11th); five quarterback hits (tied for 39th), and 29 QB hurries (ranked 19th), not great numbers but also not terrible.
2012 Grade: C
2013 Outlook: The next Bears head coach will have a three-year sample size of what he has in Webb. Webb proved to not be terrible this season, but bottom line he’s not an NFL starting LT. At right tackle however, Webb has the tools to become a solid starter. He’s a good run blocker and has developed into a serviceable pass blocker. I expect the Bears to be in the market for a LT in the offseason and Webb to be in competition for the RT job in training camp.
Carimi had a rough offseason practicing through his surgically repaired knee, and the struggle carried on into the season. Carimi was by far the worst player on the offensive line this year. At RT, Carimi was very limited on the knee to the point his technique broke down. PPF rated Carimi the fourth worst OT in all of football; giving up seven sacks, nine QB hits, and 30 hurries. When Carimi got benched, he somehow found his way at right guard where he was just as bad.
2012 Grade: D-
2013 Outlook: To give Carimi the benefit of the doubt, he was playing on a knee that wasn’t at full strength for most of the season. Carimi will have a full offseason to get some more strength in that knee and also get stronger in the upper body. Carimi will more than likely see himself fighting for the RT starting job in training camp. If Carimi can get back to his 2011 Outland Trophy winner form, the Bears will be set at the RT position in 2013.
Scott was a street free agent, who the Bears signed before the first game of the season. Scott started eight games for the Bears at RT and graded out as the 65th best OT in the NFL by PFF.
2012 Grade: C-
2013 Outlook: Despite PPF’s negative grade on Scott, general manager Phil Emery is high on the veteran and it looks like he will be brought back on the roster to compete for the starting job at RT.
Brown was elevated to the practice squad after Chilo Rachal walked away from the team. The undrafted free agent started at left guard in the Bears final four games of the season.
2012 Grade: C+
2013 Outlook: The coaches didn’t know what Brown’s true position in the NFL was, but it looks like he has found a home at LG. After two consecutive rocky games, Brown finished the last two games of the season strong against some good defensive lines in the Arizona Cardinals and Detroit Lions. Brown should get a shot at the starting LG spot in 2013, and if the Bears move to a zone-blocking scheme, look for him to have a breakout season.
Louis was having a breakout season for the Bears at right guard before his season ended after suffering a torn ACL.
2012 Grade: B+
2013 Outlook: Louis is a free agent after this season and he was hands down the Bears best OL throughout the year. Phil Emery could bring Louis back on a one-year deal to see how his knee responds. PFF didn’t think too highly of Louis run blocking this season (-8.0), but according to them, Louis stood out better in pass protection. Louis wasn’t much of an ideal fit for offensive coordinator Mike Tice power blocking scheme; he like Brown is more of a zone-blocking offensive guard that’s effective getting out on the edge. The Bears can get the best out of Louis if they switch to that blocking scheme.
Out of the 32 starting centers in the NFL, Roberto Garza was ranked 30th by the people at PFF.
2012 Grade: C-
2013 Outlook: While Garza isn’t terrible, the Bears can do much better at the position. He’s a serviceable pass blocker at best and has declined over the years as a run blocker. Emery remains a supporter of Garza and there’s a strong chance that he will be the team’s starting center in 2013.
Spencer was benched after a poor performance against the Green Bay Packers in week two. He was inserted back into the starting line-up when Louis suffered a season-ending injury.
2012 Grade: D
2013 Outlook: Spencer is a free agent after this season, and I don’t see the Bears bringing him back.
Williams saw action at LG when Spencer went down to an injury in the week 12 match-up against the Minnesota Vikings.
2012 Grade: D
2013 Outlook: Williams and Spencer are Tice guys that fit his system. With Tice likely being shown the door once the new head coach arrives, these guys are likely to follow suit.