The Monsters of the Midway found that out the hard way this past season, as the trade for Jay Cutler at quarterback didn't open any holes for running back Matt Forte and couldn't transform tight end Greg Olsen into a Pro Bowler. General manager Jerry Angelo thought he added enough pieces in the offseason to patch an offensive line held together by bubble gum and duct tape the year before, with future Hall of Famer Orlando Pace eventually joining prior free-agent additions Frank Omiyale and Kevin Shaffer. But Pace's tank proved to be on "E" at left tackle, Omiyale didn't transition well to left guard – he was better after a midseason benching, however – and Shaffer wasn't given a chance at right tackle until the Pace experiment officially came to an end late in the schedule.
Former first-round pick Chris Williams disappointed at right tackle but played better on the left side once Pace exited, and Roberto Garza was steady if not spectacular at right guard, but center Olin Kreutz looks nothing like a Pro Bowler anymore.
Inside the Numbers
Blasphemous as it may sound, since he only has one year left on his contract and is inching dangerously close to liability status, it would be understandable if the Bears severed ties with Kreutz and moved failed guard Josh Beekman to center. Both tackle spots seem to be in good hands, with Williams taking over the left side and Shaffer serviceable on the right side. Don't be surprised if both Omiyale and Garza return at guard, especially if there is any movement at the center position.
The offseason is going to be odd because of uncertainty surrounding the collective bargaining agreement, as Angelo doesn't have the draft-choice compensation needed if he wants to sign a premier free agent like Saints tackle Jamaal Brown or Patriots guard Logan Mankins since they may be restricted – they would only be unrestricted if the owners and players can agree on a new CBA before March.
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John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.
2009 Position by Position Review: OL
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