The Bears offensive line struggled to protect Jay Cutler once again on Sunday, leading to a new raft of questions about the job general manager Jerry Angelo did to address a weakness from last season.
The team certainly didn’t ignore their needs in the area. They drafted tackle Gabe Carimi in the first round and signed Chris Spencer away from the Seahawks, although the loss of longtime center Olin Kreutz to the Saints meant it wasn’t all about additions. Spencer didn’t win a starting job in camp, but did get the start at right guard in Sunday’s loss to the Saints in place of the injured Lance Louis. Carimi has started each of the first two games, but will miss the next four weeks or so with a dislocated knee.
In an interview with the team’s website, Angelo defended his work.
“We did everything you could possibly do to that position. Nobody did more than the Chicago Bears. We drafted a player in the first round. We brought in a player with a lot of NFL experience who is still in his prime. We developed young players who are going into their second and third years, including another high draft pick in Chris Williams. We like our eight linemen. That’s not an issue. Injuries happen, and then you have to adjust accordingly. Everything bad that happened on Sunday wasn’t all because of poor offensive line play. Believe me when I tell you that. It was a collective failure. The defense and special teams share part of that as well. So let’s not beat up on the offensive line.”
Few teams could lose two starting offensive linemen without missing a beat, so it is hard to beat up on Angelo too much for that. But you can certainly find fault with the decision to let Kreutz walk away and replacing him with a player who couldn’t win a starting job. Angelo should be careful about patting himself on the back for Williams. He wasn’t drafted with the 14th overall pick to become the left guard, he was drafted to fill the left tackle spot now filled by J’Marcus Webb.
Those things do make Angelo’s talent evaluation and decision-making fair game for criticism. As is an offense that remains so heavily slanted in favor of the pass despite the line’s inability to protect Cutler and the presence of a good running back in Matt Forte. You know what you’re getting when you hire Mike Martz and that means you need to do more to ensure that the offense can run effectively by building the best offensive line possible.