Bears tackle J'Marcus Webb lines up before a play during the Bears touchdown drive in the second quarter of the Chicago Bears 23-6 victory over the St. Louis Rams Sunday September 23, 2012 at Soldier Field. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
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Updated: October 1, 2013 6:52AM
Center Roberto Garza is the last man standing — literally. General manager Phil Emery’s systematic overhaul of the offensive line has made it that way.
And the Bears are probably better off.
The Bears waived tackle J’Marcus Webb and guard/center Edwin Williams as part of 17 official cuts made Friday. As a result, Garza is the only offensive lineman remaining from last season’s original 53-man roster.
The Bears’ roster is officially at 58 players, but once the situations of injured safety Brandon Hardin and offensive tackle Cory Brandon are resolved, it will be at 56. The roster must be down to 53 by 5 p.m. Saturday.
“We don’t have a set recipe,” coach Marc Trestman said. “We have the formulas for different numbers at different positions to make up the 53. But it’s really about getting the best 53.”
As far as the offensive line, that meant moving forward with players who not only fit the new system and blocking schemes, but have the approach the Bears want to have from the players up front. This is where Webb falls.
Webb definitely overachieved as a seventh-round pick in 2010, starting 44 of 46 games in three years, including all 16 at left tackle last season.
But when Webb is considered one of your best offensive linemen yet consistently needs help from tight ends and running backs, and situations that should motivate him (the signing of left tackle Jermon Bushrod, public demands for more from coaches, a benching and a pay cut) fail to do so, it’s time to move on.
As Webb said weeks ago during training camp, the Bears’ new staff, notably Trestman and offensive coordinator/line coach Aaron Kromer, demanded “more accountability in how I have to play to the best of my ability every single down and be physical and emphasize the protection on the quarterback.”
Trestman, Kromer and Emery didn’t like what they saw in the preseason. Kromer said this week the Bears evaluated everything.
“Every game is a big game, every evaluation, every meeting he goes to,” Kromer said when asked specifically about Webb. “Every meeting everyone goes to in that room is a big evaluation. Do they know what to do? Do they know the answers to the test when they get out here? Do they show that they know the answers to the test? So every day is a big day for those guys.”
The Bears’ offensive line consists of Garza, Bushrod, left guard Matt Slauson, right guard Kyle Long, right tackle Jordan Mills, swing tackles Eben Britton and Jonathan Scott and backup guard James Brown.
Center Taylor Boggs, whose progress made Williams expendable, also remains in the mix, but he could be headed to the practice squad. Brandon suffered ligament damage in his ankle and a fracture in his lower leg late against the Cleveland Browns on Thursday. He will have ankle surgery Wednesday and is looking at an injury settlement.
There are concerns, especially starting two rookies on one side, but it’s difficult saying that upgrades haven’t been made. Last year at this time, the Bears’ offensive line consisted of Garza, Webb, Williams, Lance Louis, Gabe Carimi, Chilo Rachal, Chris Spencer and Chris Williams. According to Pro Football Focus’ ratings, the Bears’ line was the third-worst in the league in 2012 — a year after being the worst.
“It will all start up front at the line of scrimmage, and not only developing the kind of running game to utilize Matt [Forte] and the running backs,” Trestman said, “but also to protect Jay [Cutler] and allow Jay to do what we think he can do.”