Da Bears O-Line

I was arguing with my roommate about how good Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roesthlisberger (which he is NOT) so I looked back to my old GOI post about Big Ben. While doing so, I was reading the comments. One of them by TBO said this: "[Bears GM] jerry angelo on the radio said that he thought the bears offensive line has been very solid throughout his entire tenure. i think he was high" That comment coupled with the Bears Expo got me thinking, how good will the Bears O-Line be in 2009/10?

The obvious key to any organization doing well is are its lines. Last year Minnesota had THE best defense line to help them go into the playoffs (While they're O-Line was dreadful, it didn't matter because they have one of the best RB that can perform despite a line). I talked about in a previous post that in fact, position players like a RB are not as important as an offensive line. This means that if the Bears do want to win, it is imperative to have a good offensive line. The Bears have a great RB and QB in Matt Forte and Jay Cutler respectively, but that won't matter if their O-line is terrible.

Football Outsiders actually looks and devises a way to measure offensive lines. While, yes, those stats are extremely dependent upon the position players themselves, I think they do a great job of making the line independent on the players. And when you think about it, that's fine, because the whole job of the line is to make sure the position players do well and gain yardage. When looking at the website, I found something that startled me, the Bears were 11th in pass blocking but only 24th in run blocking. The run blocking at first was a little shocking considering how well Matt Forte did last year. But then I thought about it and if you, like I did, actually watched Bears games, you would notice how little opportunities the Bears offensive line give Forte and you saw just how awesome Matt was despite what little was given to him. But the passing shocked me.

Kyle Orton was alright, but I didn't think he had that good of a line to work with. But it turns out the line did an above average job preventing sacks. In 2007, the line was pretty bad, but watching games you would know that Grossman mainly got sacked because he sucks at football and not because of the O-line. But in 2006, when Grossman overall had a decent year, the Bears pass blocking ranked 5th overall.

This year newly acquired Orlando Pace and 2008 first round draft pick Chris Williams will start. Despite many fans love with Pace, me and my cynicism disagree. Last year, the Bear left tackle, John St Clair, ranked 17 last year over Pace who ranked 23rd (FO looks at the direction a play went and how many yards the play went for. Because of substitutions, rests, and injures, it is practically impossible to determine which individual player gets credited with the ranking for for our purposes here it is safe to assume that the FO rankings are essentially attributed the full-time starter in these instances). John St. Clair played well for us considering and either Pace or Willaims (unless he ends up having a monster year) will actually be a downgrade at LT. But, in all fairness, the Bears are not only replacing the Left Tackle, they are also replacing the right one as well. If Williams and Pace both start and stay healthy then this Bears O-line will improve. However, if Pace starts and Williams sits on the bench, which is what is currently listed on the Bears website, then the Bears O-line actually takes a hit.

So what's the verdict on the upcoming O-Line? Well the run blocking concerns me. Hopefully, the addition of Pace and Williams does a better job of that, however, the chances seem slim. The fact that as a rookie, Forte touched the ball too much worries me as well (see: Cadallic Williams), but I think if either Kevin Jones or Adrian Peterson (preferably Jones) gets more carries to ease the burden, then the Bears running attack will be fine despite a sub-par line. I think Forte does have a lot of talent to be darn good without a line. So while the run blocking will probably not be that good, the Bears running attack I think will be fine. Another thing to ease Forte's burden will be the addition of Cutler. I think he will not be the same QB as he was in Denver because he has shittier receivers and a shittier line, but the Bears passing line isn't really that bad. I think a combination of the line improvements and the fact that Cutler is much better than Orton and Grossman, I think, at evading sacks, that the pass blocking will improve greatly this year.

Jerry Angelo might be an idiot for thinking the Bears have had a solid offensive line throughout his tenure- he obviously hasn't, but I was a proven a bit wrong too because I thought the Bears line was much worse than it actually was.