Revolving Door at Offensive Line

Chicago's offensive line, which returned only one starter from the same position as last year, just cannot stay healthy long enough for the group to build any chemistry with each other.

Shuffling the deck has part of Mike Tice's job since he took over as the Bears' offensive line coach last season and was forced to use five different line combinations in the first eight games.

Monday night featured the fourth different lineup in five weeks this season.

"The whole season is a jerry-rigging," Tice said. "With injuries in this league and the amount of guys we suit up -- remember we only suit seven up -- you have to have a plan: If this (happens), then that; if this, then that."

Against the Lions, Lance Louis was back at right guard, where he started on opening day before he was sidelined by a sprained ankle and replaced by Chris Spencer for the next three games. Spencer suffered a fractured hand in the second quarter in Week 4, and he was active Monday night but did not start. Even though he wasn't 100 percent in Week 4, Louis replaced Spencer temporarily. When Spencer returned for the second half, Louis filled in for right tackle Frank Omiyale, who was benched but back in the lineup vs. Detroit.


OL Lance Louis
Mark J. Rebilas/US Presswire

Omiyale, who had one of the Bears' nine false-start penalties, was benched Monday night in the second half again, with Louis moving over to right tackle and Edwin Williams taking over at right guard. Left tackle J'Marcus Webb had three false-start penalties.

"It was loud, but coaches definitely did their job of trying to prepare us for that, and we just have to be able to step up and make plays when our number's called," Omiyale said. "Hopefully it will be a good experience for down the road. I don't know what else to say. It's just one of those things."

--Defensive end Israel Idonije was disappointed with the Bears' performance in the first quarter of the season. He saw the Lions game as a chance for redemption and a reversal of fortunes, even though the Bears were six-point underdogs, but it didn't happen.

"They had three big plays that we gave them, and they capitalized," Idonije said. "It's disappointing."

Idonije picked up his second sack of the season in the first half, but it was the only time the Bears got to Matthew Stafford, who completed 19 of 26 passes for 219 yards, two touchdowns and a 107.7 passer rating.

For the second straight week, nickel corner D.J. Moore got the Bears' only interception.

--Coach Lovie Smith clearly wasn't satisfied with Monday's performance.

"It was not a well-played game by us," he said. "We are better than that. We can't use the loud crowd as an excuse. I can't say any of us played great, but Jay (Cutler) kept us in there at times. But their defense made us earn every point we got. Our defense did not make them earn their points."

Smith said he was not concerned over the continued abuse that Cutler has been taking.

"That's part of football," Smith said. "Jay's a big boy; he can take it. Sometimes quarterbacks get knocked down."

REPORT CARD VS. LIONS

PASSING OFFENSE: C-plus -- Jay Cutler may have played his best game in the face of heavy pressure from the Lions that forced him to move around in the pocket or scramble in the backfield until a receiver came open. Despite three more sacks and several additional hits and pressures, not to mention at least three more drops by his receivers, Cutler completed 28 of 38 passes for 249 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions and a passer rating of 99.6. With security blanket Earl Bennett still out, rookie Dane Sanzenbacher stepped up and caught six passes for 64 yards. The alleged top three wide receivers, Johnny Knox, Devin Hester and Roy Williams, combined for eight catches but just 60 yards. WR Sam Hurd had his best game as a Bear with four receptions for 50 yards.


S Brandon Meriweather
Tim Fuller/US Presswire

RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- For much of the evening, Matt Forte was either getting large chunks or stopped for no gain or negative yardage. But the end result was 116 yards on 22 carries for a 5.3-yard average, as he continued to prove that he is far and away the Bears' best offensive weapon.

PASS DEFENSE: D -- The Bears got just one sack, and although they occasionally rushed Matthew Stafford, he put up a 107.7 passer rating that was greatly helped by a 73-yard TD to Calvin Johnson, who eluded Brandon Meriweather and Chris Harris. The safeties did little in the way of helping to control Johnson, who had five catches for 130 yards. Tight end Brandon Pettigrew was wide open in a seam on his 18-yard TD grab.

RUSH DEFENSE: D -- Jahvid Best's 88-yard touchdown was the biggest embarrassment in a night of humiliation. He was untouched on a basic off-tackle play and wound up with 163 yards on just 12 carries for a ridiculous 13.6-yard average.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- PK Robbie Gould connected on his only two tries, from 44 and 49 yards. No one else stood out, and Devin Hester was especially mediocre with one punt return for 1 yard and four kickoff returns for 84 yards, including one that he fielded on the run at his own 3-yard line and then let his momentum carry him out of bounds at the 7.

COACHING: D -- Nine false starts. Fourteen penalties for 104 yards. A failed fourth-and-1 at the Detroit 26-yard line in a scoreless game late in the first quarter. The team appeared entirely incapable of dealing with a loud crowd in a dome.


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