Checking in at #2 in my 10 Most Important Bears series are two Bears linemen with a combined one year of experience in the NFL. Rookie Gabe Carimi and 2nd year pro J'Marcus Webb are both expected to be playing at the tackle spots in 2011. Who's on which side is still to be determined, but it dosen't mater. Each will face their fair share of pass rushers trying to take out Jay Cutler.
This series is my subjective look at which Chicago Bears will need to come through in order for them to have a successful season. So if you disagree with the list so far, I don't care! Improved line play is critical to keep the run game a factor in '11, and to allow the Mike Martz offense to evolve into the Mike Martz offense.
Mike Martz did a good job scaling back some of his passing game and staying with the run more than he would have liked last year. But the Bears need to be able to throw the ball better to take that next step as an offense. Protecting Cutler while opening up the offense a bit more is a must. I think the plan may have been to have Carimi start on the right side with Webb flipping to the left, but the lockout may force their hand into keeping each guy in his comfort zone.
Even though Webb was a left tackle all through college, his most recent play came on the right side, and Carimi just finished up as Wisconsin's left tackle. Keeping them both where they've been makes sense. I would like to see a camp battle for the left tackle position, but with no OTA's this off season, that will be hard to do. They want to plug in their 5 guys from day 1 and only change if they have to.
All signs point to the Bears offensive line being better in 2011, but it's on the two young tackles to solidify the line and give their franchise QB some time to work.