Focus on OL as Bears head to Combine
February, 19, 2013
By Michael C. Wright | ESPNChicago.com
Getty ImagesThe way Gabe Carimi and J'Marcus Webb have struggled may have the Bears focused on the OL.Having spent the last several weeks evaluating the current talent on the roster, the Chicago Bears look to grab a glimpse of future prospects this week when they travel to Indianapolis for the NFL Scouting Combine.
Given the pounding taken in recent seasons by quarterback Jay Cutler, the team could be working overtime at the combine evaluating talent for potential upgrades along the offensive line. But there's also a chance -- albeit small -- the Bears could try to make do with what they've already got on the offensive line.
New Bears assistant offensive line coach Pat Meyer wouldn't give a definitive answer when asked point blank whether the team's current talent can get the job done in 2013.
"Obviously (there are) some talented guys up front," said Meyer, who served in 2012 with new head coach Marc Trestman as offensive coordinator/offensive line coach of the Montreal Alouettes. "It's hard (to tell). You watch them on film, and obviously you can project some things. But we have some talented guys; we do. We're looking forward to meeting them, getting to know them and putting our personalities with theirs; getting that bond."
Trestman presided over an offensive line renaissance in 2008 with Alouettes, taking over a team that gave up a CFL-high 68 sacks the previous year. Working with the same offensive linemen in 2008, Trestman and the Montreal staff reduced the sack total to 22.
With Meyer as the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach last season, the Alouettes tied for the fewest sacks allowed (30).
But it's unknown whether Trestman, Meyer and new offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer can orchestrate similar magic in 2013 with a Bears group that allowed 44 sacks last season. Of the offensive linemen from the 2012 roster, center Roberto Garza, James Brown and Edwin Williams are expected to return to the club in 2013 along with free agent guard Lance Louis, and tackles J'Marcus Webb, Gabe Carimi and Cory Brandon.
"They've got God-gifted talent," Meyer said. "Whatever they have in terms of talent, we'll adjust and teach them our techniques, which may be different from what they've done in the past. That's really a big part of it: the technique part of it. The first and foremost thing is just getting a bond with these guys.
"We've been sitting here watching film for the last two weeks and we haven't even met any of the players. Getting that and just getting a relationship with them, getting to earn that trust and getting to work with them and find out what their personalities are like, that's gonna be a big part of it starting out."
Meyer declined to go into specifics about what he and the staff has seen from the offensive line's tapes of the 2012 season, but reiterated there's talent on the roster while adding it's often difficult to evaluate the group's play without knowing specifics.
"When the line plays good, it's not always the line. When the team plays good and they say, ‘Oh boy, what a good job the offensive line did." That's not always the case," Meyer said. "It's the same way the other way, too. When the team doesn't do well, you don't run the ball the right way or the quarterback is getting hit, that's not always the line either. So it's a little bit in between, and obviously that's why we're here to work with them and fix the problems that we had before and continue to grow in their strengths."