Chicago Sun-Times

Tice not panicking after rough debut for Bears' o-line

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Bears offensive line coach Mike Tice acknowledged the uneven performance by the o-line in the preseason opener against the Buffalo Bills last Saturday night, but said he will stick with the current unit in hopes of an improved effort next Monday against the New York Giants at the Meadowlands.

Without naming names, Tice made it pretty clear that right guard Lance Louis and left tackle J'Marcus Webb need to make big improvements over their performances against the Bills.

''We had a handful of guys that played good, and I think those guys are evident,'' Tice said. ''We had a couple of guys that were on the cusp of playing winning football, but didn't. Then we had some guys that didn't play well.

''Not to call anyone out, I think everybody knows who those guys are. It was pretty evident. They're young. They need to improve this week. Normally from the first preseason game to the second, guys make a big jump. We're looking for that big jump. I thought they bounced back today at practice and practiced well.''

The Bears allowed nine sacks against the Bills, including four in 10 drop-backs by starter Jay Cutler and backup Caleb Hanie. But they also rushed for 164 yards on 35 carries (4.7 yards per carry), including 64 yards on 13 carries behind the first-team offensive line in the first half (50 yards on 11 carries by running backs).

''I'm more encouraged than I was at this point last year, when we were playing musical lines,'' Tice said. ''I felt we ran the ball pretty good, which we didn't do [well] at any point last preseason. So at least we can come out of it with that positive spin on it.

''You don't like the [sack] numbers. The numbers are there. But when you look at the tape and say, 'How many [sacks] did we account for?' We can clean up the ones that we're accountable for. I really believe that.''

Tice acknowledged that right guard Lance Louis was guilty of struggling after having played well in practice, but with an explanation.

''Maybe part of his weakness [that was exposed against the Bills] is he went against a guy who was drafted [No. 3] in the draft,'' Tice said, referring to Bills rookie defensive end Marcel Dareus. ''I mean the guy was drafted there for a reason. So anytime that you try to be overly aggressive with a guy and try to head-butt him and kill him, knock him off his feet and get yourself spread out, you're going to get beat.

''That's what happened to Lance on the two occasions. He got himself overextended. He's the guy that's been practicing extremely well. He was the guy I was a little bit surprised at. As well as he's been practicing, he gave up a couple of big plays, bad plays. I think he'll have a great week of practice and bounce back and play better this week.''

J'Marcus Webb, who improved as a rookie at right tackle last season but is playing left tackle this season, also left a lot of room for improvement. But Tice was most disappointed in reading Webb's postgame comments that he didn't match the intensity of Bills linebacker Shawne Merriman, the former Pro Bowl player with the Chargers. He said Webb needs to ''buck up'' to meet the challenge and responsibilities of his position.

''I have a problem with that - personally - that a player is saying that he didn't have the intensity level,'' Tice said. ''I mean, [bleep], after sitting around for five months you should have plenty of intensity built up inside you. So I'm a little disappointed by that.''

''He's got to practice better, and he's got to understand that we put a world of weight on his shoulders. He needs to step up, play better, and grow up quickly because he's out on an island. With our philosophy this year, hopefully we won't have to keep backs in and chip [so we can] get our guys out and [get] more looks for the quarterback to get rid of the ball. He needs to buck up.''

Carimi, the rookie from Wisconsin who started at right tackle after having played left tackle in college, was inconsistent, but better in the game than he had been in practice. He's staying at right tackle, Tice said.

''If he's going to be the player that he can ultimately be, I think he can be a great right tackle,'' Tice said. ''Gabe was just the opposite [of Louis and Webb]. Gabe has had some bad sets in [practice]. Gabe went out and his best sets of camp were in the game. He's a warrior and he's a player. The lights came on and he stepped up to the occasion.

''Yeah, he had a couple of dumb mental errors, but he's a rookie. Plays sound the same sometimes in the heat of the battle. But I thought he played well for his first time out of there. If he can continue to improve, we're really going to have a good one there."

Tice said backup center Chris Spencer, backup guard Edwin Williams and backup tackle Frank Omiyale played well. But it's too early to make changes. Unfortunately, with an offensive line in the preseason, it quickly becomes too late. Facing a good pass-rushing team like the Giants, who had 10 sacks against the Bears last year -- nine in the first half -- will be a good litmus test.

''I think it's important to stay the course right now,'' Tice said, ''and stay positive, continue to teach and continue to have them accept teaching and hard coaching, and push themselves farther than they think they can go, and see if we can improve in a big jump this week, and see if we carry it over to Monday night.''

Tice didn't profess to have any magic solution, but he was open to suggestions.

''I think everyone can sit here, all of us, and 100 percent identify what the problems are right now,'' Tice said. ''I'm acceptable to emails and suggestions if anybody has any other than, 'Work hard and get better.'

''Fortunately the guys that didn't play up to par or how they've been practicing are young guys. Young guys can get better in leaps and bounds where as veteran guys tend to - at this stage of their career - make the same mistakes, and it's hard to fix those mistakes because they're entrenched in their ways.

''What a great challenge, and what a great team to play against this week; a team that totally embarrassed us last year. So we should have a chip on our shoulder going into that game.''

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He might want to panic soon. The Bears schedule is not set up for the Bears' line to slowly gel like they did last year. They lose the first game at home to the Falcons they then go into the Superdome against the Saints 0-1. Ouch! Very good chance of then going 0-2. Then they have to play the Packers. 0-3 could very well be staring at them in the face if they don't get the line fixed. Look at how quickly things unraveled for the Cowboys last year. Better get the line ready or that could be the Bears.

The thing about last night was that the Bills were playing just as vanilla a defense as the Bears and they grabbed 9 drops. The Saints are ultra aggressive on defense and will try and kill Jay, the Packers know how to zone blitz and the Bears have struggled with that, and the Falcons have Abraham, Babineaux, and Ray Edwards. Just a few peoblems there, then you have the Detroit line and they have Suh and a pretty solid front 4. Then you get Philly they have a couple of good players, Denver has Dumervil, so good luck with that.

Giant's have no real inside Pass rush unless Austin makes an impact, But they have 3 really ends and a solid pass rushing LB. Louis should not struggle as much, but Carimi will have his hands full with Tuck. If the Bears have any clue at all, they will run at Umenyiora every chance they get, Paul can play the run and is a solid pass rusher, Joseph is big and strong but is basiclly a rookie, Kiwanuka is going ot be a problem.

Man to man the Bears O-Line got beat by the Buffalo first team and they got beat bad. Webb better hope Umenyiora does not have his legs yet, not that Paul will be much easier.

For years the fans have been calling for an insertion of youth on the line from Angelo, now we are getting what asked for, and with that comes growing pains. If some of these guys; Louis, both Williamses, Carmini and Webb develop our team will be better for it in the long run, but it could be painful to watch for a while.

I thnik most of the concern comes from the front loaded schedule, where if the BEARS start strong they could be well on there way back to the playoffs, but if they start slow it could lead us to a long season, especially with our last two games of the season on the road. I like our chances since Defense is uaually ahead of the offense early in the year, hopefully no less than a 3-2 record after five games gives us a solid shot at the playoffs.


Webb may project to be a better left tackle than right, and vice versa for Carimi, and Louis may look like the ideal right guard, but given that there was a lockout and only about a month to get ready for the first game, shouldn't the Bears have let the guy who played right tackle last year play right tackle, and the guy who played left tackle all through college play left tackle, and the guy who has started at right guard for a decade play right guard, and the guy who played center for five years play center instead of riding the bench. Save the dramatic changes and experiments for when you've got an offseason to prepare. Just a thought.

I'd like to see both tackle J'Marcus Webb and guard Lance Louis make it, it would be better for the team for both of these guys to come on, especially in the long run. Hopefully Webb and Louis and get back on track.

Its looking like Lance Louis better show up vs the Giants or he's gonna be out of the starting lineup. Louis simply got beat by Billis first rounder Marcell Dareus, he can't afford to get beat like that come regular season time. Again, one more mistake and you'll probably see Chris Spencer in at center and Garza will shift back to right guard.

As far as Webb, he also got straight up beat by Shawne Merriman who was a little more intense than he was that day?? Give me a break did Webb put his foot in his mouth on that one? Are you kidding me telling the media that your opponent basically wanted it more than you did?? As dumb of a thing as that was to say, Webb was basically making up excuses for why he got beat, he just went about it the wrong way. I think Webb can be a better tackle than he was saturday. If he continues to struggle on the left side, for petes sake don't put Frank Omiyale in for him, if you think Webb looked bad vs Merriman, I guarantee Omiyale would have looked as or if not worse. If Webb continues to falter on the left side, Tice should flip flop Webb and Carimi. I really think Carimi can be a decent left tackle, and Webb might be a better fit on the right side anyways. Gabe Carimi was a first rounder for a reason, he proved in college last season he can play decent pass rushers and neutralize them, enough to win the Outland trophy. Carimi faced 1st rounders Ryan Kerrigan of Purdue, Cameron Heyward of Ohio State, and Adrian Clayborn of Iowa. And his play vs all of these 1st rounders was good enough to win him the Outland Trophy. I say put Carimi at left tackle if Webb continues to struggle, and move Webb back to right tackle GO BEARS!!

Tice is a very good line coach, but there's very little he can do. Last season his best two linemen were an over-the-hill and injured Olin Kreutz and an over-the-hill Roberto Garza. This season he's got Carimi, but doesn't have Kreutz. And Carimi's a rookie and will surely have some problems because of that, even if he turns out to be a good tackle.

Even Tice can't make a good line out of garbage. He says what he needs to say to the media, but considering the good linemen he's coached he certainly knows what inferior players he has now. If Bear management doesn't know how to draft good offensive linemen and ownership is too cheap to get good ones in free agency, all Tice can do is put his fingers in the dyke and hope for the best. Which won't be very good.

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Potash published on August 15, 2011 8:10 PM.

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