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The WCG All-Bears Post-Ditka Team: offensive line

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For the inaugural selection of the WCG All-Bears Post-Ditka Team, six-time Pro Bowl center Olin Kreutz leads a sturdy — nay, star-studded — offensive line.

2011 NFC Championship: Green Bay Packers v Chicago Bears Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The WCG All-Bears Post-Ditka offensive line (click here for the series introduction)

Players in contention, 2017

Tackles: Blake Brockermeyer (1999-2001), Jermon Bushrod (2013-2015), Andy Heck (1994-1998), Lance Louis (2010-2012), Fred Miller (2005-2008), Jordan Mills (2013-2014), John Tait (2004-2008), James “Big Cat” Williams (1993-2002, Pro Bowl)

Guards: Ruben Brown (2004-2007, Pro Bowl), Roberto Garza (2005-2014), Jay Leeuwenburg (1993-1995), Kyle Long (2013-present, 3x Pro Bowl), Todd Perry (1993-2000), Josh Sitton (2016-present, Pro Bowl), Matt Slausen (2013-2015), Rex Tucker (1999-2004), Chris Villarrial (1996-2003)

Centers: Jerry Fontenot (1993-1996), Hroniss Grasu (2015), Olin Kreutz (1998-2010, 6x Pro Bowl, All Pro), Casey Wiegmann (1997-2000), Cody Whitehair (2016-present)

2009 picks (click here for 2009 article)

LEFT TACKLE — Andy Heck

LEFT GUARD — Ruben Brown

CENTER — Olin Kreutz

RIGHT GUARD — Chris Villarrial

RIGHT TACKLE — Big Cat

The past 24 seasons of Chicago Bears football were collectively so rough that ESPN thought it appropriate last year to film a documentary about our pain. But it hasn’t been all rough, and I’ll tell you this: you can pretty well map the stability of our offensive line with the success of the team.

Six times our five o-linemen each started at least 14 games. Only once did we suck.

  • 1995 (eliminated Week 17)
  • 1998 (sucked)
  • 2001 (division champs)
  • 2006 (XLI)
  • 2008 (eliminated Week 17)
  • 2013 (eliminated Week 17)

The point is, when your offensive line is a rock, no matter the state of the rest of the team, fans feel secure, confident, and hopeful. When your offensive line wobbles or begins to erode, nerves are frayed. Nails are chewed. You watch Jay Cutler slammed to Earth nine times in a half and not even a division title weeks later eases anxiety.

And thus we begin the Windy City Gridiron All-Bears Post-Ditka Team at the best possible place: the offensive line. We’ll build this line from literally the center out, for two reasons that are both the same: Olin Kreutz.

Bears v Falcon X
Olin Kreutz (57) could do it all: snap, signal, lead by example, and block — on the run, on the pass, and setting up screens.

Reason 1: The center is the only person who touches the ball on every play. Every player syncs to him.

Reason 2: Olin Kreutz is hands down the best offensive lineman of the Post-Ditka era.

So yes! We begin this team with our favorite finger-twitchin, eye-darting, six-time Pro Bowl leader, Mr. Kreutz. Drafted in 1998, Kreutz became a full-time starter in his second season and was a starter until 2010 through three playoff runs, starting 16 games 10 times.

At left tackle, I am changing my 2009 pick of Andy Heck to the Super Bowl starter John Tait. A five-year starter starting in 2004, Tait joined Thomas Jones and Ruben Brown as the first key free agent signees of the Lovie Smith era. When I picked the team in ‘09, I think my judgment was clouded by his later, aging years. But he belongs as a starter on the WCG AB PD Team.

Tennessee Titans v Chicago Bears
John Tait (76, at right tackle) — seen here in 2008 — is the WCG AB PD LT. Next to him is Roberto Garza (63, at right guard) is the WCG AB PD LG. Olin Kreutz, (center) is our center.
Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

The other tackle spot goes to Big Cat Williams, who started at RT 15 games in the 1994 wild card season, and then all 16 every year after until 2002. He earned a Pro Bowl berth in 2001.

Side note: big props to Big Cat for transitioning during his career from a rotation defensive lineman to a stalwart and Pro Bowl offensive lineman.

The guard spots are the ones that have gotten more challenging since 2009. I picked Ruben Brown for my left guard and Kyle Long at right guard (and man, you could consider Long for right tackle too). Brown had only one 16-game season, but he made a Pro Bowl that year, 2006, and was a culture changer.

Chicago Bears v San Diego Chargers
Everybody likes Kyle Long.
Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Still, the rest of the Committee argues that Roberto Garza needs to start. They can take it from here.

Lester A. Wiltfong Jr.: While Brown did have a Pro Bowl season as a Bear, he only played four years in Chicago, and 45 games. Garza was also a starter on that 2006 NFC Champion team, and his Bears career was 10 years long, with 154 games and 145 starts at both guard and center.

Robert Zeglinski: I have no issues with those picks, but I might say the same as Lester. Then again, even for the one Brown Pro Bowl season, that might transcend.

Sam Householder: I agree with everyone except Brown. I feel like Roberto Garza held down the guard spot when he really wasn't expected to be with the team for that long. He held down that spot and then later switched to center when it was necessary.

Brown played in 45 of 64 games with the Bears and that last year his play was starting to fall off. Garza missed six games in 10 seasons. Brown was good, maybe great, for four years while Garza was very good for 10 seasons. To me that gets him the nod.

Steven Schweickert: My frame of Bears reference kinda comes into sharper focus in '01 (the "oh, right, sports/football"). So on that left to right, Tait, Garza, Kreutz, Long, Big Cat.

If I have a reservation it's Long for Brown but I'd feel good about that set of five.

***

So there we go. Our team is on its way.

WCG staff picks & WCG reader picks:

LEFT TACKLE — Tait

LEFT GUARD — Garza

CENTER — Kreutz

RIGHT GUARD — Long

RIGHT TACKLE — Big Cat

NEXT STORY: the other side of the trenches... the yin to the o-line’s yang... the defensive line.

All statistics from pro-football-reference.com, unless otherwise noted.

AND NOW...

YOU BE THE JUDGE

Poll

Who do you want starting at left tackle?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    Blake Brockermeyer
    (1 vote)
  • 1%
    Jermon Bushrod
    (7 votes)
  • 7%
    Andy Heck
    (29 votes)
  • 1%
    Fred Miller
    (6 votes)
  • 69%
    John Tait
    (274 votes)
  • 18%
    James "Big Cat" Williams
    (71 votes)
  • 1%
    Other
    (5 votes)
393 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Who do you want starting at right tackle?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    Blake Brockermeyer
    (6 votes)
  • 2%
    Jermon Bushrod
    (10 votes)
  • 1%
    Andy Heck
    (7 votes)
  • 3%
    Fred Miller
    (18 votes)
  • 10%
    John Tait
    (50 votes)
  • 79%
    James "Big Cat" Williams
    (365 votes)
  • 0%
    Other
    (4 votes)
460 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Who is your starting left guard?

This poll is closed

  • 21%
    Ruben Brown
    (65 votes)
  • 28%
    Roberto Garza
    (86 votes)
  • 16%
    Kyle Long
    (49 votes)
  • 0%
    Todd Perry
    (1 vote)
  • 22%
    Josh Sitton
    (66 votes)
  • 9%
    Matt Slausen
    (28 votes)
  • 1%
    Chris Villarrial
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    Other
    (0 votes)
298 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Who is your starting right guard?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    Ruben Brown
    (8 votes)
  • 4%
    Roberto Garza
    (10 votes)
  • 88%
    Kyle Long
    (212 votes)
  • 0%
    Todd Perry
    (2 votes)
  • 1%
    Josh Sitton
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    Matt Slausen
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Chris Villarrial
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Other
    (0 votes)
239 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Who is your starting center?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    Jerry Fontenot
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Hroniss Grasu
    (0 votes)
  • 90%
    Olin Kreutz
    (233 votes)
  • 0%
    Casey Wiegmann
    (0 votes)
  • 8%
    Cody Whitehair
    (23 votes)
  • 0%
    Other
    (0 votes)
258 votes total Vote Now