CHICAGO - OCTOBER 24: Matt Forte #22 of the Chicago Bears avoids a tackle attempt by London Fletcher #59 of the Washington Redskins as teammate Lance Louis #60 blocks DeAngelo Hall #23 at Soldier Field on October 24 2010 in Chicago Illinois. The Redskins defeated the Bears 17-14. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Matt Forte; London Fletcher; Lance Louis; DeAngelo Hall
Hurry! Hurry! Hurry! Step right this way! Cross the jump and see oddities galore. Watch the Mammoths of the Midway as the dance for your entertainment. But their livelihoods are in peril! They must fight for a seat before the melody ceases! Watch your step! Hurry! Hurry! Hurry! Before you miss the action! One's already lost his seat!
Olin Kreutz: Olin is a free agent this year. Olin is going to retire a Bear. He may not be the guy he once was, but he's still the best player on this line and the leader. And if Midway Jay is the Heart of the offense, and Forte is the strength of the offense, then Olin is the soul of the offense. Mark my words......Olin has a seat.
Edwin Williams: Edwin is a bit of a favorite of mine. Why? This guy doesn't know how to stop. He doesn't quit no matter the adversity. Williams was born addicted to cocaine. Both of his parents were free-base cocaine addicts. He was raised by his mother's parents in Deanwood, a violent suburb in DC. Yet out of this, he forged a way for himself through sports. He was all-everything out of high school, scout team player of the year in his redshirt freshman year at Maryland, was a Wilma Rudolph Award winner (awarded to college athletes who overcome adversity) his junior year, and was All-ACC his senior season in 2009. I don't care what anyone thinks of this kid, I don't believe there is anything he can't succeed at if he wants to. Edwin has a seat and a future.
Herman Johnson: Interesting fact about Herman? At 15 lbs and 14 ounces, he was the largest baby ever born in the State of Louisiana. And he's still large. At 6'7" and 360 lbs, Johnson is a very large man. And therein lies the problem. The former member of the 2007 LSU National Championship team is ginormous! His height is a problem at guard. But he doesn't have the athletic ability to hang at tackle. So where does this guy fit in? I'm thinking that unless he develops some serious lateral movement quickly, he'll be lucky just to make the practice squad. No seat for Hermy.
Roberto Garza: Garza has been a solid guard for the Bears since he was acquired in 2005. He's been largely under-appreciated during his tenure here. But he is also starting to slide. It's hard to tell how much, as the play around him affected how he looked. But I'd hazard a guess that the Hispanic star has a couple of good years left in him. Not great years, but good enough that the Bears can focus on fixing the pieces around him before having to worry about his spot on the line. Roberto has a seat.
Levi Horn: Call me crazy, but this is another kid I think can take a serious jump forward in his second year. He's a big kid (not Herman big, but 6'7 and 327 is nothing to sneeze at) and he's athletic as hell, running a 5.12 40, a 8'3" broad jump and a 5.10 short shuttle at Montana's Pro Day, which is what got him a contract. I get why Tice wanted this kid. And if Mike can work his magic on Levi, the Bears might have an option at tackle. Levi has a seat.
Lance Louis: I know the Bears were sure he would succeed. Unfortunately, he didn't. In fact, he was really bad. And I just don't see the Bears wasting a whole lot more time on him, especially considering the fact that some of these linemen have to go to make way for new blood. To be fair, Louis's performance wasn't all his fault. In fact, he showed some raw skill. But he was thrown into the mix way too fast. I don't know if he can recover from that in this town. Some heads have to roll, so Louis is without a seat.
Frank Omiyale: Omi is never going to win any Pro-Bowl nods. But he was tossed into the mix at LT when Williams blundered his way into injury, and never looked back from there. LT is his most comfortable posiotion, and he was adequate if not even good at times. I don't see him as the future of the Bears at the LT position, but I do see him as quality depth for years to come. Omi has a seat.
Johan Asiata: Johan was considered a favorite for a starting guard position last preseason. Then he just disappeared. He was released, then brought back on the practice squad where he spent the rest of the year. The fact that the Bears brought him back would seem to mean that there is something about him that Tice or Martz really likes, and the fact that he wasn't set up for failure, as Louis was, is probably a good thing for him, as well. Of course, the other possibility is that he was just good at being part of the practice squad/scout team. I'm going to guess that Johan misses the final roster. No seat for him.
J'Marcus Webb: Webb took a lot of criticism last year, and a lot of it was deserved. But there were a couple of things that he did that I really liked. The kid doesn't give up on a play, and I like that. We all made fun of him for his basketball style block, but that was a perfect example of him getting beat and not giving up on the play, as well as thinking quickly on his feet and displaying his athleticism. Another thought is that he was set up for failure much like Louis.....but he stuck with it and held off veteran Kevin Shaffer to keep the spot. And he got better as the year rolled on. Not only do I think Webb has a seat, but I think he'll be the starter at RT when all is said and done for quite a while.
Chris Williams: I saved Chris for last because I honestly can't figure him out. He was drafted injured and the Bears knew that. He also had short arms and the Bears knew that. Oh, and he was knocked for his strength coming out of college. The short arms don't help him at Tackle. The limited strength doesn't help him at guard. And I can't help but to wonder if that back injury might be causing him problems yet in both spots. The more I see of Williams, the more I see a bust. But the Bears won't give up on him just yet. He'll get one more year to prove he was worth that first round pick. So on that alone, he has a seat. Let's hope he gets up off of it and plays like a first rounder.
What all of this is really saying is that I am fairly certain that the Bears will do far less to fix the line than most want and some expect. We'll probably get a first day draft pick and maybe another on the second day or a undrafted FA or two, but I'm not expecting a lot of change or anything by way of free agency in terms of the line.
The dust has settled and the Mammoths of the Midway have reordered their hierarchy. And when all is finished, Johan, Herman and Lance are left to find a seat at a new circus.
And for more on the offensive line, see Sir Lester's fantastic pieces on the line here: