The 5 sacks the Bears offensive line gave up in the season opener against the Falcons might not be a good indicator of how well they performed overall as a group. Mike Mayock of NFL total access a couple days ago came to the conclusion that this year's Bears OL is much more improved from last season's. I have to agree with him considering the interior line has all of a sudden turned into a strength allowing Jay Cutler to step into the pocket, and the tackles have plenty room for growth. Overall it was an okay debut for the offensive line against a good Falcons defensive line; now they face a whole other animal in New Orleans defensive coordinator Greg Williams, who likes to throw all kinds of formations, looks and blitzes.
Last week's match-up post featured the Bears DL against the Falcons OL because I felt that area was the key to winning the game. This week my focus shifts to the offensive side of the ball, as I feel the Bears pass protection as a whole is key against a heavy blitzing team like the Saints.
LT J'Marcus Webb vs. RE Turk McBride/OLB Scott Shanle
Webb had an ok game in pass protection against a tough match-up in John Abraham last Sunday; for this Sunday, it will be another challenge for Webb. Saints DC will throw different looks at the 1st year LT in order to get pressure on Cutler's blindside. There will be times where Williams will show sort of a 3-4 look with McBride lined up as a 5 technique DE with OLB Shanle lined up in a 2 point stance next to him ready to rush the passer. It's not really an overwhelming match-up on paper for Webb, and he should be able to have success.
LG Chris Williams vs. DT Sedrick Ellis
Williams had a very good game last week against Atlanta. Against New Orleans, he most likely will get a good dose of a very good DT in Sedrick Ellis. Ellis can definitely rush the passer evidence coming off a 6 sack season last year, so Williams is going have to bring it up to another level. Greg Williams will also throw blitzes up the middle to test the awareness of the interior line. It will be a busy day for Williams, and if he along with the rest of the interior can provide Jay a clean pocket, it puts a lot of pressure on the Saints secondary to cover a quick receiver group.
C Roberto Garza vs. NT Shaun Rodgers
Jay Cutler and OL coach Mike Tice praised Roberto Garza for his play against Atlanta this past Sunday. Going back and watching the game, I can vouch for Tice and Cutler (not that they really need me to) that Garza had a great game. Fans were concern on how Garza would perform making a big transition, but Garza look almost like a natural at the position. Garza will be tested this Sunday against New Orleans who likes to create pressure by sending guys all over the place. This game will pretty much tell you how further along Garza are at the C position, as far as line calls and blitz recognitions. Shaun Rodgers had a pretty bad game against the Packers (resulting in Mark Sherleth chewing him out on NFL Live later on that night), but you can expect the veteran NT to rebound this Sunday. It will be up to Garza to neutralize Rodgers and if he can do it 1 on 1 it just leaves the Bears with a couple or more extra blockers to pick up any pressure up the middle.
RG Chris Spencer vs. NT Shaun Rodgers
When the Saints defensive line is in a 4-3 look you will see Spencer lined up against NT Shaun Rodgers. Spencer came in for the injured Lance Louis Sunday and the interior line didn't miss a beat. The Bears have pretty good depth along the interior line with Spencer and Edwin Williams. Both guys got reps at RG in yesterday's practice, but I feel that Tice might go with Spencer. Spencer is no stranger of taking on bigger DT's, so it shouldn't be an overwhelming match-up. Spencer is a strong interior lineman who knows how to get his pad level low and drive opposing tackles off the line of scrimmage. This match-up can go either way as both players are talented.
RT Gabe Carimi vs. LE Cam Jordan/OLB Jonathan Casillas
There were some good moments for Carimi last Sunday and then there were some rookie moments. Think some of us expected Carimi to struggle a bit in the early part of the season, but get better as the season goes on. Carimi will be going up against another rookie in DE Cam Jordan who wasn't all that impressive against the Packers, but will still be a tough challenge considering he's a great talent. Carimi will also throw 3 year player OLB Jonathan Casillas who is very explosive as a pass rusher. Both Jordan and Casillas is capable of giving Carimi a tough time on the outside, but I also feel Carimi is very capable of shutting both them down. Carimi is going to see a good share of both along with overload pressure on his side (Webb at times should expect that also).
It's not only going to come down to the line stopping New Orleans blitz attack, so the TE's, backs, and WR's (Hot Routes) all have to do their part and neutralizing the pressure DC Greg Williams is going to throw at them. The match-ups on the outside are favorable for the Bears only if the protection holds up, and if they do hold up Jay could have a career day through the air.