A lot can be said about how bad the left side of that line was last year with a clearly done Orlando Pace and a LT playing out of position at LG in Frank Omiyale. What overshadow it was the apparent decline of a once dominate Center in Olin Kreutz. Kreutz on many occasions last season was dominated by the opposition. Whether that had anything to do with the injury to his Achilles tendon is beyond me, but fans have witness Kreutz decline back in 2007. The Achilles injury in 2008 might have sped up the process. Roberto Garza has always been the adequate starter with plenty of highlights and low lights during his tenure year in Chicago. He's always been protected by the previous coaching staff, but now with a new offensive line coach he is seeing competition for the first time in quite a while against second year guard Lance Louis.
In my fifth and final match up post series, I will dive into the week to week competition Garza and Kreutz will have to face and what to expect from these match ups. This season can very well be Garza and Kreutz last in a Bears uniform, as Kreutz is in his final year of his contract and if Tice can see that they can do a little better at RG you can bet the next coaching staff (If the Bears bomb this season) and new general manager will want a better player at that position. Can Kreutz have a Pro Bowl season like Tice thinks he is capable of? Will Garza buy into the teachings of Tice to put him over the hump as an average guard?
Week 1 vs. Detroit (Ndamukong Suh and Cory Williams)
Right off the back Kreutz, Garza, and whoever is the LG between Beekman and Asiasta will have there hands full against the combination of Suh and Williams. Suh will be a handful for Garza (I am assuming Suh will line up at the Nose tackle position) which will lead to Kreutz helping out Garza. I think this is the bears best bet in both run and pass blocking because I think whoever lines up at LG can handle Cory Williams one on one.
Will be another tough week for the duo of Garza and Kreutz; 3-4 fronts are usually very easy to block if you are instinctive and the interior line can hold their blocks against the NT and DE's. Garza, Kreutz, and the LG will have to play really well in order to ease the pressure off both the tackles. As far as the running game it starts with Kreutz against Ratliff. If he can have some success against Ratliff, it frees up the guards to get their body on the middle linebackers and open running lanes in Dallas front 7.
In my opinion the Packers have the best 3-4 defensive line in football, and that's even without Johnny Jolly. We remember opening day last year how Green Bay front 7 completely made the whole Bears offense out of sync for the entire game. In order for the Bears offense to get exploit the weakness that's in Green Bay secondary, the offensive line has to contain Prickett, Raiji and Jenkins. The key match up on that line will be Garza against Jenkins, who is consider top 3 at his position as far as 3-4 Ends are concern. Raiji is strong and powerful, but the guy to worry about on that line is Jenkins as he not only can plug up holes your run blocking, but also has pass rush moves to get to the QB.
After a tough 3 weeks, it gets a little easier for Garza and Kreutz going up against Rocky Bernard and Barry Cofield of the Giants. I think this is a game where both guards can handle their man 1 on 1, which leaves Kreutz to focus more on the middle linebacker run/pass blitzing.
This might be Garza and Kreutz is challenge this season, as both tackles are unproven. Just like last week Garza and whoever is at LG shouldn't need that much help from Kreutz in both the run and pass blocking department. This leaves Kreutz to focus on Jon Beason, Carolina Pro Bowl middle linebacker.
On paper it doesn't look tough for Kreutz and Garza, but I can see this turning out to be a tough contest. The Bears line actually had a tough time last season against the Seahawks defensive line as Forte had no room to run and Cutler was consistently getting knocked down all game long. I think we should see some improvement this time around as the main problem in that game was Chris Williams and Frank Omiyale. Both guys are in their natural positions this season.
Week 7 vs. Washington (Ma'ake Kemoeatu and Albert Hanyesworth)
If Hanyesworth buys into that RE position in the 3-4 he could be a beast. Ma'ake Kemoeatu has always been a very solid player, and figures to fit perfectly in the Redskins newly 3-4 defenses Shanahan is implementing. Kreutz and Garza could have a very rough afternoon if Hanyesworth buys into the system and Kemoeatu fully heals from that Achilles injury.
Week 9 at Buffalo (Torrell Troupe and Marcus Stroud)
You are about to see a true example what happens when you don't have the proper personnel to run a 3-4. Marcus Stroud is a tough player to block, but you are talking about a guy that has never played in this system and you don't know how he is going to respond to it. On top of that, you are expecting a 1st player to fill in at the most important position in that scheme Torell Troup at NT. I look for Garza and Kreutz to have a solid game against these two.
It seems the Bears interior line always no matter what have problems against these two every year. The game plan they came up with late last year was very effective where they left the LG one on one with Jimmy Kennedy (Pat Williams was out for that game) and double team Kevin Williams all night. That game plan neutralized Jared Allen and Ray Edwards, who at times depend on the interior D to help in both the run /pass. If the LG can block Pat Williams one on one, it gives Kreutz and Garza the opportunity to completely take Kevin Williams out the game. If that happens, it exposes the rest of that defense from the linebackers to the secondary as far as passing offense is concern.
Week 11 at Miami (Randy Starks and Jared Ordick)
Both guys are reserves that are replacing starters Jason Ferganson (retired) and Phillip Merling (Out for the season with injury). The Dolphins defensive line is in flux, and it gives Kreutz and Garza a very good chance of having a more than solid night.
Bunkley is a pretty good defensive tackle that has had some success against both Kreutz and Garza in the past two years. Patterson is also a handful as he is very quick and can get to the QB if you don't get a body on him. Tough match up, but it's not impossible for the both to have success in this game against the two.
Week 13 at Detroit (Ndamukong Suh and Cory Williams)
This will be a tougher day compare to opening day as Suh should be seasoned during this time of the year, and Williams will feed off the pressure that Suh creates. Garza and Kreutz will have a hard time keeping these two guys off Cutler and I expect Tice and Martz to design run plays away from the two. It's in Angelo best interest to get with the program and start drafting quality interior lineman next year instead of waiting to the 6th and 7th rounds. Suh will be a player to be reckoned with for years to come.
Week 14 vs. New England (Vincent Wolfolk and Gerald Warren)
I can see Garza and Kreutz getting pushed around by Warren and Wolfolk in this game. Garza will get some help from the RT whenever the LOLB is not rushing the passer and just dropping in coverage. The pressure would be on Kreutz to contain maybe the best 3-4 NT in football in Wolfolk. If Kreutz does his job on Wolfolk it eases the pressure off the guards in tackles in their match ups.
Week 15 at Minnesota (Pat Williams and Kevin Williams)
The game plan should be the same as in week 10, take Kevin Williams and Pat Williams out the game and you will see the effect it has on Allen and Edwards.
Kris Jenkins is a handful for any interior lineman, so expect Kreutz to struggle a bit in this game. Garza shouldn't have a hard time against Devito who is a bit under size to play defensive end in a 3-4. The success Garza and the LG can have can help the Bears against the blitz Rex Ryan will throw at this offense.
Week 17 at Green Bay (B.J. Raji and Cullen Jenkins)
The Key match up again against the Packers are the LG vs Ryan Prickett and Garza vs Jenkins. Green Bay defensive line makes their pure pass rushers look good because of the penetration they can create on the line of scrimmage. Expect a spirited effort from our line in this one especially if this is a win and you are in game (Yes I expect the Bears to be the playoff hunt late in the season).
Links to other match up posts
The last stand? Olin Kreutz and Roberto Garza