Bears' patchwork OL rebounds in victory
November, 25, 2012
By Jeff Dickerson | ESPNChicago.com
AP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastThe Bears' revamped offensive line yielded just one sack against the Vikings on Sunday.CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bears made considerable progress in their pass protection on Sunday despite being forced to use a makeshift offensive line that at one point featured three new faces due to a series of injuries that ravaged the unit.
Six days removed from allowing six sacks in a disastrous performance in San Francisco, the Bears let the Minnesota Vikings get to quarterback Jay Cutler just once in the 34 times (31 pass attempts, three rushes) he dropped back to pass during their 28-10 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.
"I thought the offensive line did a good job," Cutler said. "There were a few moving pieces in there with some guys filling in. Under the circumstances they played well."
To say the Bears' offensive line had a "few moving pieces" might be an understatement. In the wake of their performance versus the 49ers the Bears shook up the offensive line and benched right tackle Gabe Carimi and left guard Chilo Rachal (who subsequently left the team) in favor of Jonathan Scott and Chris Spencer.
For Scott, it marked his 31st career start but first with the Bears since signed with the team on September 10.
"You know coach (Tice) went into the game with a good scheme that allowed us to be successful on 3rd down," Scott said. "It was a pride issue. San Francisco kind of handed it to us so we had to redeem ourselves and play some decent football. I think we went out there today and did it."
But then the injuries started to pile up.
First, Spencer had to exit the game in the first half with a knee sprain and be replaced by Edwin Williams. Then right guard Lance Louis, perhaps the Bears' best offensive lineman, also suffered a knee sprain on a vicious block by Vikings defensive end Jared Allen following a Cutler interception.
With Spencer and Louis out, the Bears only option was to move Carimi, exclusively a tackle, inside to right guard.
"It was the first time I ever played guard so we'll just have to wait to see how I did on film," Carimi said. "I know I didn't do everything right but I got in there and didn't give up any plays. So that's huge.
"Everything happens faster. There are bigger guys. It's just a whole different animal, technique-wise it's a whole different animal. It's kind of hard to explain if you don't play it but it's definitely a lot different. I think I did alright. I have to watch some film but I feel pretty good about it jumping in there. That's why you keep a good attitude. I knew I'd be back in there. I didn't want it to be this way but I got in there and did my job."
Bears veteran center Roberto Garza felt Carimi did a good job despite the circumstances.
"Losing two starters is tough to overcome," Garza said. "Edwin and Gabe going in a guard, a position he hasn't played, they did a hell of a job. It's a tribute to the job coach (Mike) Tice is doing with us. Those guys played more than half the game at positions they hadn't played at all during the week."
Because the Bears chose to keep rookie guard/tackle James Brown inactive for the game, there were technically no other offensive linemen available in the event the Bears would have suffered yet another injury on the line in the second half, so there would have been forced to turn to 6-foot-7 tight end Matt Spaeth.
"Spaeth is a physical player," Scott said. "If anything else negative happened (in terms of injuries) my bet would be on Matt."