Just like many fans and Chicago media, I couldn't take much from the performance of the offensive line last Saturday. When Cutler was in the game, the line protected him well and gave him a clean pocket to look through during his progression and to deliver the ball to the open receiver. Looking back on Hanie's time in there, the line gave him the same performance they gave Cutler, but Hanie held on to the ball a little too long, allowing the pocket to collapse on him.
While the 1st team offensive line did a good job protecting Cutler and giving Hanie the opportunity to find the open receiver, you wish that they could have showed a little bit more toughness and opened wider holes for the running backs to run through. Last weekend run blocking performance resembled last year's, where the line consistently got pushed around and wasn't the aggressor when they engaged with the opposing defensive line.
If the offensive line wants to get their harsh critics off of their back, they need to show that they can have an all around good game. What better way to do that then to face an Oakland Raider defensive line that's one of the league's most underrated. This week's match up post will focus on each individual match-up along the offensive line. Can the Bears line put a brief hush to their naysayers? With the starters expected to play well into the second quarter, they will get plenty of chances to shut up those harsh critics.
Projected starting offensive line for Bears
LT Chris Williams, LG Roberto Garza, C Olin Kreutz, RG Lance Louis, RT Frank Omiyale
Projected starting defensive line for Raiders
LE Matt Shaughnessy, DT Richard Seymour, NT Tommy Kelly, RE LaMarr Houston
LT Chris Williams vs. LE Matt Shaughnessy
Chris Williams graded out as the best lineman last Saturday as his man almost never came close to breathing on Cutler's neck hairs. Williams will be going up against a young athletic pass rusher in Matt Shaughnessy. Shaughnessy is more of a one dimensional defensive end, whose specialty is more into rushing the passer than stopping the run. I expect Williams to have success against Shaughnessy, but fans should pay more attention to this match-up on run plays because it will tell you where Williams is at in his run blocking against an end that's inferior to the run.
LG Roberto Garza/C Olin Kreutz vs. Richard Seymour
We will see Seymour double a majority of the time this weekend. At 30 years old, Seymour is still a disruptive force and having a shutdown corner in Nnamdi Asomugha only adds more pressure to the lineman who has to block him one on one. I expect the pair of Garza and Kreutz will make Seymour a non-factor as a pass rusher, but run blocking might be another story. Garza will most likely have a tough contest trying to get a push against Seymour when run blocking.
RG Lance Louis vs. NT Tommy Kelly
Kreutz will have to count on Louis holding Kelly down one on one, because of the amount of attention Seymour will attract. Kelly has been a bit of a disappointment for the Raiders, but he's still a veteran that can take advantage of Louis' lack of experience at RG. Louis graded out well in pass protection when I looked back at last Saturday's game, but often times he looked lost when run blocking, resulting in him getting pushed around. This will be a critical game for Louis as he will need a good showing to get Tice's assurance that his starting spot is locked.
RT Frank Omiyale vs. RE LaMarr Houston
Looking back at last Saturday's game against the Chargers, Frankie O surprisingly graded out the second highest. He was going up against the Chargers' best pass rusher and shut him down. Bears fans, If you want to take something out of that game, it would be that Omiyale didn't look lost - not one bit. His footwork looked fine, he didn't have any false starts, and his man never came close to a sack. He did a good job taking away the rusher's inside move and when the opponent was rushing outside, he drove him out of the play every time. Omiyale was also no slouch in the run blocking department, as he often pushed his man back and pulled very well by following through on his block. He had a good game, but he will need to build on that this Saturday against a good up and coming defensive end in LaMarr Houston (two sacks last week against Romo).