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updated: 10/27/2010 11:16 AM

Bears troubles tied to draft history

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  • With the Bears failing to provide pass protection, it's time for the running game to get more attention in the game plan.

       With the Bears failing to provide pass protection, it's time for the running game to get more attention in the game plan.
    STEVE LUNDY | Staff Photographer

  • Bears quarterback Jay Cutler and Offensive Coordinator Mike Martz willl spend the bye week trying to get the offense started again.

       Bears quarterback Jay Cutler and Offensive Coordinator Mike Martz willl spend the bye week trying to get the offense started again.
    STEVE LUNDY | Staff Photographer

 
 

It's too bad the Bears' offense is such a disaster because the defense is playing well enough to lead an average offense to the playoffs.

Come to think of it, if the Bears strived for average on offense they'd be better off. Then, coordinator Mike Martz wouldn't be force-feeding a steady diet of passing plays down the throat of an offensive line that can't pass protect against most NFL defenses.

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But that's what happens when you ignore the offensive line in the draft for eight years. That group represents nearly one-fifth of a team's starting lineup, but Bears general manager Jerry Angelo seems to believe that talent isn't as necessary on the offensive line as it is at the other positions.

"It's not about getting great players, it's about getting the same five players playing well together," Angelo said on the WBBM 780-AM pregame show Sunday. "When you lose a player, or players in our case, it makes it tough on the other guys because one player affects the other four."

Angelo makes a valid point that the Bears' offensive line has been hindered by injuries, which affects the cohesion needed for offensive line play.

After starting the first two games at left tackle, Chris Williams missed almost four full games with a hamstring injury and then was re-inserted at left guard, taking over for Roberto Garza, who missed the last two games following arthroscopic knee surgery. A knee injury knocked Lance Louis out of the lineup after four starts.

Williams' injury led to Frank Omiyale's move from right tackle to left, with veteran backup Kevin Shaffer taking over for two games at right tackle. But coaches decided seventh-round rookie J'Marcus Webb was a better alternative. Louis' injury ushered Edwin Williams into the starting lineup.

But the bigger problem, and the one that no one at Halas Hall wants to acknowledge, is that none of the players who has been shuffled in and out and back and forth is a difference maker.

There's a reason Webb lasted until the seventh round this year, Louis lasted until the seventh round last year and Edwin Williams was available as a street free agent after being cut by Washington: No one else thought they were very good.

The Bears have been forced to replace mediocre-to-average players with other mediocre-to-average players on the line because they have ignored the foundation for eight years.

Chris Williams is the only offensive lineman the Bears have drafted in the first round in eight years, and now the coaching staff doesn't believe he's the team's best left tackle anymore. Williams is the only offensive lineman the Bears have taken in the first three rounds of the last eight drafts. They used a fourth-rounder to take Josh Beekman in 2007, but he was cut Sept. 4, and they took Tyler Reed in the sixth round in 2006.

So, with a total of 68 draft picks since 2003, the Bears have selected just nine offensive linemen, and six of them were taken in the seventh and final round. That's why they can't protect the quarterback.

You'd think Martz would have realized that by now.

Follow Bob LeGere's reports via Twitter@BobLeGere. Check out his blog, Bear Essentials, at dailyherald.com.

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