False starts, missed blocks wreck Bears’ offense
MARK POTASH ON THE bEARS October 11, 2011 10:20PM
Chicago Bears v Detroit Lions
Updated: November 16, 2011 1:45PM
Offensive tackle Frank Omiyale didn’t get beaten on every play in the Bears’ 24-13 loss Monday to the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. In fact, on one second-half play, Omiyale actually drove defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh back.
Unfortunately for the Bears, guard Chris Williams missed a block on linebacker Bobby Carpenter, who dropped Marion Barber for a one-yard loss. And center Roberto Garza was called for holding, so the play would have been called back even if it had worked.
That’s the kind of night it was for the offensive line against the Lions. No matter how much went right, there was almost always something that went wrong. And the Bears’ offense is so dependent on precision that it doesn’t take much to blow up any play coordinator Mike Martz calls.
One basic difference between the Bears’ offensive line and other
NFL offensive lines is that the
others block better. The Dallas Cowboys didn’t lose to the Lions because they couldn’t take the heat. Tony Romo beat the pressure with an effective screen pass because his left guard and right tackle blocked the linebacker and cornerback. The Bears don’t do that. The Cowboys run right at those three Lions linebackers bunched in the middle of the field because they block all three and gain seven yards to set up a
second-and-three. The Bears block two of the three, and Matt Forte is stopped for no gain to set up a second-and-10.
The way Jay Cutler played against the Lions, he’d be in the Pro Bowl if he played for the Cowboys. How fun it must be to drop back and have options. Or nullify the pass rush of Kyle Vanden Bosch, Cliff Avril and Suh by taking a two-step drop and lobbing the ball to Dez Bryant for a touchdown.
Instead, every game is like solving a Rubik’s Cube for Cutler because the Bears have him playing behind an offensive line that was set up to fail — or at least struggle. With four players in
positions they didn’t play last season, all it took was one injury to make every week a new adventure. And it is. With sacks, penalties and other offensive mishaps, Cutler has run 62 plays this season with more than 10 yards to go for a first down. The Lions’ Matthew Stafford has run a mere 34. It makes a difference.
The game Monday showed how bad it can get.
‘‘Too many breakdowns,’’ Garza said.
Even worse, no two breakdowns are alike. Even the five false-start penalties by the offensive line
(seven, if you include tight end
Kellen Davis) were unique. Williams flinched. Omiyale jumped. Tackle J’Marcus Webb was goaded into one when defensive tackle Corey Williams darted into the neutral zone and Webb didn’t move immediately to draw an offside penalty.
Garza broke late on a screen to Davis and missed a block, result-
ing in Davis being tackled for a one-yard loss. Tight end Matt
Spaeth missed a block on corner-
back Chris Houston, nobody blocked Carpenter and Devin Hester lost eight yards on a screen. Webb didn’t look like he was sure if he had to help out Williams on one play and was beaten by Vanden Bosch.
And when Cutler finally was given time to drop back and find a receiver, Forte dropped the ball.
The Bears have five offensive linemen they can win with, but they have to put the right five players in the right five spots. So far, it looks like offensive line coach Mike Tice is using the process of elimination. With 11 games left in the regular season, time is running short already. A healthy Gabe Carimi would be a great start. At this point, though, it looks like Tice is in need of a miracle.