Chicago Sun-Times

Why Chris Spencer should start vs. Saints

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As a rookie starter with the Bears in 1983, Jimbo Covert spoke for just about every offensive tackle who ever played in the NFL after he was benched midway through his fourth professional game in Baltimore.

''If I could go out and buy experience, I would. But you can't,'' he said. ''You just have to go through the season.''

Covert, a first-round pick from Pittsburgh who would become one of the greatest tackles in team history, was just as unflappable then as Gabe Carimi is today. But he still had to go through that first season.

Any rookie starter knows there are going to be highs and lows. But for a lineman they seem to come so quickly. In his second NFL game, Covert held the Buccaneers' Lee Roy Selmon, a Pro Bowl end in his prime, without a sack. The next week at the Superdome in New Orleans, he allowed two sacks because crowd noise prevented him from hearing the snap count.

''The crowd noise itself was very difficult,'' Covert said Tuesday. ''Hearing the cadence especially was difficult. We lost in overtime and I played a pretty good football game except for the sacks - and a couple of sacks that I had, that was just because I was trying to hear. There wasn't really a physical thing. I had a handle on that [part] pretty quickly.

''That's a really difficult proposition if you're a left tackle. You've got a defensive end lined up in the stands, as far away as possible -- because he's trying to get the quarterback and yet you can't hear the snap count. You can't watch him. Because if you watch him he's already beat you.''

That's the challenge Carimi faces this week -- a rookie tackle playing his second NFL game in the Superdome against a defense that ranked fourth in the league in yards allowed last year.

The Bears have lost four of their last five games in the Superdome -- including a 34-31 overtime loss in 1983 when Covert and guard Rob Fada were rookie starters and the Bears allowed eight sacks and had 11 penalties; and a 28-6 loss in 1992 when Troy Auzenne was a rookie starter at left tackle.

It's probably not a coincidence that the lone victory came in 1991, when Mike Ditka started veteran John Wojciechowski in place of struggling rookie Stan Thomas, giving the Bears an offensive line with 40 years of NFL experience (the rest of the '85 Super Bowl line was intact: Mark Bortz, Jay Hilgenberg, Tom Thayer and Keith Van Horne). Jim Harbaugh hit Tom Waddle for a 12-yard touchdown with 54 seconds to go as the Bears -- playing on 10 days rest -- won 20-17.

So with Carimi on one end and second-year tackle J'Marcus Webb on the other, the Bears might be wise to have veteran Chris Spencer start at right guard and let Lance Louis rest his ailing ankle Sunday against the Saints. Spencer has started 70 games in the NFL, including the Seahawks' 34-19 loss to the Saints in the Superdome last season.

As Covert said, ''You can't buy experience. You just gotta get it.'' In this situation, it can make all the difference.

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6 Comments

If I was Lovie Smith I'd leave the kids in there on the O-line and tell Martz not to call a single pass in the first half. Not one. I'd tell my defense and special teams: "it's on you."

Maybe in the second half I'd let Knox and Hester run a couple post patterns off a 5 step drop....maybe.

I'm dead serious. That's what I would do.

You have to play your best players. What errors are made due to inexperience will pay off later, but errors made by less talented veterans are irredemable.I'm sure the coaches will take steps to prepare for the noise factor.I think no-huddle offense might help, as well as quick snap counts. There are other steps that I'm sure the coaches can work on to offset that noise.

this article is titled 'why chris spencer should start vs. saints,' yet says nothing about chris spencer. what's the deal?

Well to be fare to Jimbo it was his first game ever against a 3-4, first game in the Super Dump, and he was going against Rickey Jackson in his prime, and when not Jackson it was Bruce Clark or Jim Wilks. Not an easy day.

I get the feeling Urlacher won't be playing in this game and that's huge, but I hope his mom is ok or gets better, moms are the best.

By all rights the Bears should win this game, so why do I get the feeling they won't? Colston is out, Moore is out, their defense sucks. Their front four is missing their best player. Yes they blitz a lot, but they don't disguise a single damn thing you can seethe blitz a mile away. Yet I just get that feeling that the Bears will struggle, Saints home opener, the noise, Brees with his back to the wall, a better O-Line than wha tthe Bears saw last week, Urlacher might be out(huge), three headed running back attack and Sproles is a mismatch problem, although I think if the Bears get enough shots at him he is getting stripped. Porter is a solid Corner with good speed although he is misused to often, Jenkins is a good safety, Hrper is pretty damn good, Greer should be back at Nickle but is a bit of a Jennings type Corner. They have a very solid secondary and would be a lot better if their front 7 could generate any pressure.

I guess I am just getting that feeling.

Without question, this is going to be a very tough game to win with or without Urlacher. Almost all the professional prognosticaters see Green Bay as repeating as Super Bowl champions, and yet New Orleans should have beaten them in Green Bay. Two potential touchdowns were not made because of stupid play-calling, or at least a touchdown and a field goal. New Orleans is always a threat simply because of Brees.If the Bears have any chance, it will be due to pressure on Brees. Cutler should be able to have a solid game and put points on the board, but if the game turns into a shoot-out, the smart money would probably be on Brees.And yes, Creighton, Sproles is scarey.I hope you're right and that he gets stripped a few times.All that being said, the Bears will win 34-24.

Thats actually to bad about Lance Louis's injury, I've read that Louis had 5 knockdowns in 20 snaps sunday. Thats awesome and the kind of physical play the Bears have been lacking inside since Olin Kreutz was in his prime. Louis is a big (320lbs) nasty mauler type, the knock on Louis seems to be his lack of durability. Hopefully he gets back on the field soon?

I expect Chris Spencer to start sunday, I think Edwin Williams is getting reps just in case another injury occurs. Well see GO BEARS!!

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Potash published on September 14, 2011 8:45 AM.

Brian Urlacher status unclear due to personal matter was the previous entry in this blog.

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