11:03 AM EDT, June 14, 2012
It still makes no sense that the Bears ignored their starting offensive line in the first phase of free agency or the draft.
It makes less sense when you believe the Bears are a Super Bowl contender the way I believe.
It’s even more mind-boggling after watching new general manager Phil Emery attack free agency and the draft.
Emery grabbed a starting big receiver in each instance, one a veteran game-breaker, the other potentially growing into that. Emery drafted a likely starter at left defensive end and signed depth at linebacker and cornerback. He added speed and depth at wide receiver and special teams, and with Matt Forte trying to hold the Bears hostage, Emery signed erstwhile Oakland starter Michael Bush and moved along with other things.
Point is, Emery saw the same dearth of talent that you and I did, and did something about it. Bravo. Clap, clap, clap. Take a bow.
But for a random Chilo Rachal, how did Emery miss fixing the offensive line? I mean, it’s such an obvious issue that even the Bears head coach could see it.
Not that Lovie Smith would ever admit that J’Marcus Webb was the worst starting left tackle in the league. Nope, Smith would simply ignore Webb leading the league in sacks allowed and false-starts and tell you, “We like our people blah, blah, blah.’’
The Bears like Webb so much that they’re having failed and frequently hurt Chris Williams compete for the starting job of protecting Jay Cutler’s blind side.
The Bears will tell you that getting back a healthy Gabe Carimi at right tackle is like bringing in a starter, but considering he was injured in only his second NFL game, it’s more like bringing in a rookie.
If this week’s mini-camp is any indication, the interior of the Bears line will include a career right guard playing center again, a career center moving to left guard, and last year’s fill-in right tackle playing right guard.
The Bears also will tell you that former offensive line coach Mike Tice now calling plays will eliminate the stupidity of Mike Martz. Tice assuredly will put his players in a position to succeed, which didn’t happen the last couple seasons until aliens abducted Martz’s brain.
But there might be a more notable reason the Bears ignored improving the unit that usually defines great teams: The Bears plan to have Cutler run away from the bad blockers.
It’s part of the game plan, of course. The Bears plan to use more designed rollouts and bootlegs the way the Broncos tailored their offense for him in Denver.
But I’m talking more about expecting --- demanding --- Cutler scrambling out of trouble. The Bears know he can run around and make plays. The Bears know he will have to. The Bears can’t say this exactly, but I believe it’s part of their refusal to upgrade the personnel along the offensive line.
It looks like this to me: The Bears gave Cutler almost all the toys he wanted, but not everything because there are other areas that needed help, and so, the Bears had to choose between receivers or linemen, apparently deciding that Cutler can run away from defensive players easier than he can complete passes to himself.
You see where this is heading, don’t you? The Bears have surrounded their most important asset with weapons more talented than ever, which is another way of saying the Bears have eliminated almost every excuse in a season with Super Bowl expectations.
You know what happens when you give a player almost everything, don’t you? You give that player every reason to produce his greatest season while also setting him up to absorb every bit of blame if those Super Bowl expectations aren't met.
Cutler has gotten a pass for most of his Bears career because, well, he really had no one to pass to. Now he does. Now he has weapons he’s always wanted here. Cutler also virtually co-authored a playbook that emphasizes his athletic ability and minimizes the offensive line’s shortcoming. What’s more, Cutler has been granted the option to audible.
Now he has no excuses. This, then, seems to be the end of the "Jay Cutler Sympathy Tour.''
At least until he suffers his annual season-ending injury.