Bears' offensive line starting to put it together
Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice, here with left tackle J'Marcus Webb, like the aggressiveness he has seen from his O-line.
Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer
Maybe Jay Cutler doesn't yet feel as safe in the pocket as a newborn baby in its mother's arms, but the Bears' offensive line is proving it can get after it in the run game.
After back-to-back games of 214 and 171 yards on the ground, the Bears are ninth in the NFL in rushing yards per game and 10th in average gain per rush.
Pounding it on the ground against the clawless Jacksonville Jaguars wasn't a monumental achievement in Week 5, but taming the Detroit Lions' vaunted front four last week was an accomplishment.
"I'm very, very pleased at the approach the guys took and the aggressive nature at which they played," offensive coordinator Mike Tice said. "It's not always pretty.
"We're right now not the prettiest offense in the world, but the way the guys got after the opponent and finished … that's the way we want to play.
"I feel like the last two weeks is the most physical that the offense has been in the three years I've been here. I didn't say it was the best, but the most physical."
At least for now, Tice and the Bears can live with the most physical.
Continuity has helped.
Sunday's game will be the fifth straight that left guard Chilo Rachal has played with season-long starters left tackle J'Marcus Webb, center Roberto Garza, right guard Lance Louis and right tackle Gabe Carimi.
"When they start to play together, they can play aggressively," Tice said. "Plus, we're running the same plays over and over, so now when they see different looks they know what those adjustments are."
The O-line is far from a finished product as evidenced by last week's 6 penalties. But that's a trade-off Tice can accept if the group continues to play with the aggressiveness he has seen recently.
Two of the penalties were holding calls on Carimi, who has struggled at times but has played with the aggression Tice values.
"Gabe plays really hard," Tice said. "Gabe is not the type of athlete who should be on the left side. When Gabe's plays are ugly, they're (really) ugly because of that reason.
"He wants to kill guys. There were a number of plays in the (Lions) game where I stopped the tape (and showed him) where if the guy moved out of the way, he would have fallen on his face. He gets himself so overextended because he's trying to knock guys out.
"On the (second) holding call, he was going to murder that guy. So now he's got his head over here and his feet over here and it's like the wizard of Oz with the scarecrow.
"And so the guy just does a little move and then he's on his face and he grabs the guy and he gets a holding call."
The overaggressiveness is a situation Carimi is aware of, but it's not one that needs to be eliminated, just tempered.
"I just have to calm down a couple things, a couple penalties here and there," Carimi said. "It's just my style of play, though; I'm a very aggressive player.
"Yeah, I'm overaggressive, but I do a lot of good things when I'm overaggressive, too. (But) there are some times I need to just bring it back a little bit."
Adding Rachal to the lineup ratcheted up the group's aggression. But, he too can get a bit carried away. Case in point: last week's unnecessary roughness penalty that cost the Bears 15 yards.
"I was just finishing to the whistle and probably just a little bit more," Rachal said. "But I want to keep guys off my running backs, and if I feel that a linebacker's still trying to go after someone, I just want to keep him off my guy.
"I just have to learn how to control it. That was one of my problems in the earlier stages of my career, just trying to go for that knockout shot every time, and it was getting me hyperextended, just getting out of balance instead of picking your times and spots when to do it."
Like Carimi, Rachal is Tice's kind of player.
"He put a lot of guys on the ground (last week)," Tice said. He was the (bad) guy a couple times, but the guy plays hard and he plays physical. He's knocking guys around in pass protection."
All things considered, this is a group Tice is willing to go into battle with.
"Big guys can't be big backing up," the 6-foot-7 coach said. "This group that we have now, they're knocking guys around in the pocket. Just go back and look at the game. There are a lot of guys on the ground, and that's a good thing.
"That's a good thing for the Bears."
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