The opinions on the Bears' offensive line have been conflicting, to say the least. Some say that the line will be much improved in 2012, while most maintain that the group is the achilles heel of the team and is not something that can be overcome. I am going to make a case for the former. I'm sure this will cause many to rant and rave, and that is your choice if you choose to do so. Before you do, here are my four reasons why the Bears' offensive line will be much better this year.
1. We exchanged one Mike for another.
We can all agree that the offensive line's performance over the last few years has been troublesome. They have been near the worst in the league in sacks allowed every year that Jay Cutler has been the quarterback. The situation was not helped when Mike Martz was hired as his scheme and his unwillingness to change it led to Jay running for his life on most plays and being injured in the NFC Championship Game. During those two years, the Bears averaged 52.5 sacks allowed per season. Now that Martz is gone, the system is no longer a problem. New Offensive Coordinator Mike Tice is a former offensive line coach who's offenses have been very effective in both rushing and passing the ball. During his tenure as offensive line coach for the Minnesota Vikings, his teams averaged 36.6 sacks allowed per season. That is an improvement of about 16 sacks per season. Tice has brought with him his philosophy of protecting the quarterback and opening lanes for the running backs. He will leave tight ends and running backs in to block which is something that Martz was very hesitant to do. He will also allow Cutler to change the play at the line and give input as to which plays they run. This will allow Jay to take what he sees in the defense and change the play accordingly.
2. Every day we're shufflin'
I know it's a bit of a cliche, but we lost two first round offensive linemen last year. Gabe Carimi was injured in week two and Chris Williams missed the final seven games. Both of these players will be back this season which will provide a major boost in young talent. While Carimi is somewhat of an unknown commodity, it is assumed that he will be an improvement on what we had last year. Because we are getting back two players, that means some players will also be moved to different positions. It has been reported that Williams has been practicing at LT and Chris Spencer has been practicing at LG. I believe that moving Williams back to tackle is a very good move. One of the main issues with him when he played tackle in his first year was that he wasn't tough enough. Playing inside at guard has helped with this problem and his new toughness along with his quick feet make for a solid year at tackle if he can stay healthy.
3. Addition by subtraction.
FRANK OMIYALE! That's all.
4. Addition by addition.
With the additions of Brandon Marshall, Michael Bush, and Alshon Jeffery, we finally have more than Matt Forte as a legitimate offensive threat. Bush will give us a solid one-two punch at RB and possibly the best tandem in the league. Both backs are excellent receivers out of the backfield as well, which provides an extra element to the offense. The new receivers will stretch out the defense and make them respect the pass more. It's much easier to cover Johnny Knox and Devin Hester in single coverage than it is to cover Brandon Marshall. This will make it so that the defenses can't blitz nearly as much and relieve some pressure from the offensive line. This will in turn allow the team to run more effectively, and so begins the cycle of success created by a balanced offense.
Those are the four reasons why the offensive line will not be as big of a problem as some think it will be next year. Let me know what you think, don't hold back, and as always, BEAR DOWN!