Offensive coordinator Mike Tice didn’t waste any time getting right to the point in Wednesday’s news conference.
“There are a couple of things that I know are right,” he said. “In a season when you run three-step drops, you should have no sacks at the end of the season. To give up 3 in one game is totally unacceptable.
“Secondly, it’s hard to chip bull rushes because a guy is down the middle of a guy and, at a certain point, a player needs to grit his teeth, buck up and win a fight.”
Recognizing the problem is the first step to solving it. But the Bears offensive line is in such a state of disrepair that it may take more than a 12-step program to rectify the situation.
The latest development on the embattled O-line is the departure of starting left guard Chilo Rachal, who on Wednesday afternoon was placed on the reserve/left team list for personal reasons. As poorly as Rachal and most of the offensive linemen have played recently — he was called for holding three times on Monday night — a personnel change might be beneficial.
Undrafted rookie tackle-guard James Brown was promoted from the practice squad to replace Rachal on the 53-man roster. The most seamless transition would be reinstating Chris Spencer at left guard, where he started the first two games before he was benched in favor of Rachal. Veteran Edwin Williams, who started the final seven games at left guard last season after Chris Williams was injured, is another option.
In an indication of how poorly the group has performed, consideration may also be given to benching or moving left tackle J’Marcus Webb and right tackle Gabe Carimi.
“We’re looking at everything,” Tice said. “We have to find a better way.”
Veteran backup Jonathan Scott has gotten game snaps in recent weeks as an extra blocker in short-yardage situations, and he is a possibility.
Carimi and Webb took turns Monday night making the 49ers’ Aldon Smith look like a combination of Reggie White and Lawrence Taylor. After allowing 6 sacks, 5 ½ by Smith, the Bears are 30th in sack percentage allowed.
“We watched the tape (Wednesday) morning,” Tice said. “It was hard. It should have been hard to watch yourself because that’s your resume. Right now my resume is not very good. I’m the one calling the plays, and I’m the one leading the offense. I have to find a way to do a better job.”
Vikings defensive right end Jared Allen, who led the NFL with 22 sacks last season, is looming on the horizon, so contingency plans are being reviewed. Allen beat Webb for 3 ½ sacks the last time they faced each other in the 2011 season finale.
“Definitely we will have chip help,” Tice said. “We’re going to have to make sure we account for him every play. Every time we drop back to throw the ball, he’s Waldo. We have to make sure we know where he is.”
The problem is that Tice can’t give every offensive lineman help on every play. So personnel changes are possible, and with six games remaining, there is a sense of urgency.
“It’s a business,” Tice said. “We’ve got to make decisions and move and go, whether it’s what (play) we’re calling, who we’re calling it to, who’s blocking or who’s catching.”
Right guard Lance Louis and center Roberto Garza are the only linemen who have consistently played well enough for the offense to succeed. Wholesale lineup changes might disrupt continuity, but that must be weighed against lack of production from the current starters.
Carimi has not played as well this season as he did early in his rookie year before the knee injury that ended his season after 1 ½ games.
“Gabe had some struggles (vs. the 49ers),” Tice said. “Gabe works hard and is a very good professional for a young player. But at the end of the day we all have to have better results. Gabe is so intense. But he’s a young player and (when something happen early) he gets all worked up and he doesn’t settle down and it compounds it. It’s happened more than once. He has to work through it.”
In order to be successful, Webb needs to maintain a hands-on policy, according to Tice.
“When he uses his hands, he’s OK,” Tice said. “He’s not bad. The few times that he used his hands he blocked his guy. But when he doesn’t use his hands, he’s just a big, tall guy out there getting edgy and getting knocked around.”
The alternatives are the 6-foot-6, 318-pound six-year veteran Scott, who started nine games for the Steelers in 2010 and eight games for the Bills in ’09, and the 6-foot-4, 306-pound Brown.
“Jonathan has played good football in his career,” Tice said. “He’s a big presence, and we’ve been playing him a little bit as a tight end, trying to get him in there and get his legs underneath him to see what he can do, and he’s done a solid job for us.”
Brown probably isn’t ready yet for prime time.
“It’s not like at this point of the season you could take a James Brown and say, ‘OK, you’re the guy now,’ ” Tice said. “That’s desperation.”
The Bears aren’t at that point — yet.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.