J'Marcus Webb has been a lightning rod player for the Bears.
On the one hand, he's been a bargain, a seventh-round pick who has started 28 games, including all 16 last season. On the other hand, he's played at a sub-par level at one of the most important positions on the football field, protecting the blindside of quarterback Jay Cutler.
In a Q&A with Bears general manager Phil Emery, I asked him about Webb coming out of West Texas A&M and what he sees from the left tackle now.
"Well, my first exposure to him was at the Cactus Bowl," Emery said. "I had a chance to talk to him there and watch him perform. I see a player that is obviously gifted genetically. He has all the prerequisite athletic tools and body size that you're looking for at that position. That prerequisite is very hard to find, so you want to be very patient with that person who possesses those tools because there are 32 staring left tackles. There are probably 20 or less - or half or less - that qualify as a consistent, good, NFL left tackle. A starter.
"So you're going to be patient. That's what we're doing. We're being patient with J'Marcus, and we want to see him develop because of those tools, and what we're looking for is, we see him do it, and we want to see him do it with consistency."
Yes, Webb has the tools. But, many athletes have had the tools to be successful but never fulfill that potential. I'm not saying that's the case with Webb. But, he has yet to show consistency, and he doesn't exactly play a position where you can afford for him to grow into the position. A blown block could result in a major injury to Cutler, since Webb is responsible for the quarterback's blindside.
On Saturday, Webb played a fairly solid game. Now, the real test comes: the New York Giants. New York Jets offensive tackle Wayne Hunter reportedly gave up four sacks against the Giants, so this will be a great, great test for Webb and the rest of the Bears offensive line.