Tales from the Tape: Offensive line

We go to the game film to break down the performance of Chicago's offensive line from the team's third preseason contest against New York Giants. You might be surprised at who stood out.

The Chicago Bears last night raised the team's preseason record to 2-1 last night, yet in the first half, the starters were outplayed by the New York Giants.

The starting front five failed repeatedly to open holes in the run game. As such, the Giants were able to pin their ears back and get after quarterback Jay Cutler. Pass protection was decent overall but very spotty at times.

This was a big test for the offensive line, facing a very tough Giants defense. Let's go to the tape to see how they fared.

Film work

-2nd and 8. The first pass play is a rollout right. After the play fake, RB Matt Forte chips on the left side, giving T J'Marcus Webb help. Cutler finds WR Brandon Marshall in the right flat for a six-yard gain.

-3rd and 3. Cutler in shotgun. Giants bring just four rushers. RT Gabe Carimi is beat around the edge by DE Justin Tuck. Cutler is forced to step up and scramble, ending up a yard short of the first down. Bears are forced to punt.

-1st and 10. Five-receiver set. TE Kellen Davis and Forte line up in the wing spots. At the snap, both players chip the edge before releasing into their respective routes. Cutler has time and finds WR Earl Bennett over the middle for a first down.

-1st and 10. Strong right, Power-I formation. The Giants counter with nine guys in the box. Handoff to Forte up the middle. The Bears don't have enough blockers to take on the nine-man front and LB Mathias Kiwanuka comes untouched into the backfield to drop Forte for a two-yard loss. Poor play call, inviting a loaded box with an obvious run set, yet not having enough players to match the stacked box.

-2nd and 12. Four-receiver set with Cutler in shotgun. Bennett is wing left. At the snap, Bennett chips on DE Osi Umenyiora. He shoves the defender inside, which throws Webb off balance. Umenyiora still gets pressure up the middle, forcing a rushed, high pass from Cutler that falls incomplete.

-3rd and 12. Three-receiver set with Cutler in shotgun. Giants rush four. LG Chris Spencer is one-on-one with DT Linval Joseph. Spencer allows the defender to get outside leverage. Joseph then drives his way into Cutler's face, again forcing a high pass and incompletion. Bears punt.

-1st and 10. Reverse to Hester. TE Evan Rodriguez leads the play and gets a good block out in space, springing Hester for a 19-yard gain. This gadget play was the only positive run play in the first half

-1st and 10. Giants blitz off the left side. The line does a great job of getting everyone blocked. Cutler finds Marshall for a nine-yard gain.

-2nd and 2. Cutler is under center and hands the ball to Forte up the middle. On the left side, Umenyiora uses a quick stutter step to slide inside of Webb. Webb stands and watches him, then reaches out and whiffs on the block attempt. Umenyiora is in the backfield immediately and drops Forte for a two-yard loss. Just an incredibly awful play by Webb.

-1st and 10. Forte up the middle. The front five does a great job of blocking and there is plenty of room for Forte to run. Lead blocker Rodriguez tries to pick up LB Chase Blackburn but makes a poor block. Forte ends up running into Blackburn and goes down after a two-yard gain. Poor block by E-Rod.

-2nd and 7. Three-receiver set. Cutler under center with Forte behind him. Cutler drops back to pass and the Giants blitz S Kenny Phillips off the left edge. Forte steps up to block him but Phillips jukes to the inside and is in Cutler's face almost immediately. At the same time, RG Lance Louis gets mauled by DT Rocky Bernard, giving up more pressure. Cutler has to fire a quick throw to WR Alshon Jeffery that falls incomplete.

-3rd and 7. Cutler in shotgun. The front five does a good job giving him time to throw. Carimi is beat around the edge but he's able to push the defender past the pocket, allowing Cutler the time he needs to find Marshall for the 21-yard touchdown. Also on that play, the Giants ran a cross stunt on the left side but Spencer and Webb did a great job picking it up.

-1st and 14 at the 4-yard line. Cutler drops back to pass. The Giants blitz both linebackers up the middle. Louis is blown back by Joseph, forcing RB Michael Bush to help. On the other side, the line picks up the blitzers but, as a result, DT Markus Kuhn comes from free. Because Bush has to help on the other side, Kuhn gets a free run at Cutler, who sees him coming and hurries a pass that falls 15 yards short. Poor effort by Louis on this play.

-2nd and 14. Bush runs up the middle. Webb and Spencer double-team Kuhn for no good reason, allowing backside linebacker Keith Rivers to come free and take Bush down after a two-yard gain. I still can't figure out why Webb was doubling Kuhn instead of picking up the linebacker.

-3rd and 14. Cutler in shotgun. Giants rush just four. C Roberto Garza and Louis stand and watch as Tuck goes right between them. Louis dives and gets a piece of Tuck but he's already in the backfield. Cutler again has to hurry a throw that falls incomplete.

-With 5:33 left in the second quarter, Chris Williams and Chilo Rachal enter at LT and LG respectively, in place of Webb and Spencer.

-2nd and 10. Forte runs up the middle. Louis and Carimi double-team Bernard. On the inside, Garza just flat buries Kuhn. Louis trips over Kuhn, and then Carimi peels off for a linebacker, leaving Kuhn unblocked. Forte runs right into him and Kuhn makes the tackle for a minimum gain.

-3rd and 8. Giants run a complicated blitz, with guys coming from all directions and stunts happening up front. Yet the line does an outstanding job creating a pocket for Cutler. He's able to step into his throw and finds Jeffery for the first down.

-2nd and 8. The Giants blitz off the left side but everyone is picked up. Great job by Williams, Rachal and Forte getting the right guys picked up.

-3rd and 8. Cutler in shotgun. At the snap, Umenyiora comes hard off the left edge. Williams uses good footwork to get in front of the defender but then drops his head. Umenyiora uses a head fake then sprints right past the blocker. Williams tries to reach out and grab the defender but it's too late. Cutler has to step up and scramble out of the pocket. Bears punt. This play on its own might have cost Williams a shot at the starting left tackle gig.

-2nd and 10. Cutler drops back to pass. Kuhn drives Rachal into the backfield then uses a rip move to get past him. He's in Cutler's face after only a few seconds, forcing an off-target pass that falls incomplete. Very poor effort by Rachal.

-1st and 10 at Chicago's own 2-yard line. Forte up the middle. Kiwanuka blitzes between Garza and Louis, who are tied up with defensive linemen. Forte is hit in the backfield and nearly taken down for a safety.


First off, you'll notice that on a number of plays, the Bears chipped on the edges to support the offensive tackles. Expect that to continue throughout the regular season.

The Bears did not allow a sack in the first half but that doesn't tell the whole story. There was plenty of pressure given up by every player across the front five. It caused Cutler to rush a number of passes that fell incomplete.

Still, not allowing any sacks against one of the best defensive lines in the league cannot be discounted. The front five had some individual struggles here and there, but overall, they did a good job of picking up the blitz and keeping Cutler upright.

While pass protection was decent, the run blocking was just atrocious. Guys missed blocks left and right, and there was no cohesiveness. This has been an issue all preseason. It's something that has to be addressed before the start of the regular season or this offense will quickly become one-dimensional.

At the left tackle spot, I felt Webb was very good in pass protection. He showed good balance and kept his head up, two things with which he's struggled. Webb had a number of bad plays in the run game but as far as protecting Cutler, he fared far better than Williams. Because of that, Webb will surely be named the starter at left tackle at some point in the next two weeks.

Rachal gave up one bad pressure yet overall, I thought he had a strong outing. Yet so did Spencer. In this scenario, the tie goes to the incumbent. Spencer will likely keep his starting job but it's good to know that Rachal can step in and perform if need be.

Carimi has struggled in the preseason but he looked better last night. He gave up a couple of pressures but overall he was solid. The knee didn't appear to be bothering him either, which is a big step in him returning to form.

No one is talking much about Lance Louis but after watching this tape, I'm a bit worried about him. He made some really bad decisions and was beaten one-on-one on a number of occasions. While Spencer is having to earn his spot on the left side, one wonders why Tice isn't challenging Louis on the right side.

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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.

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