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Bears offensive line makes strides
Former first-round pick Chris Williams went from left tackle to left guard after he returned from an early hamstring injury.
Frank Omiyale moved from right tackle to left tackle. Kevin Shaffer started two games at right tackle before J’Marcus Webb settled in there, and Lance Louis and Edwin Williams made starts at right guard, where Garza has started the past eight games. He also started the first five at left guard before missing two games with a knee injury.
“We had some injuries,” said Tice, the offensive line coach. “We have a new system. And anytime you have that combination _ injuries, a new system, young guys _ you’re kind of feeling your way through things and we certainly were doing that. We weren’t playing together for no other reason except we hadn’t played together. This guy’s in, he’s hurt. This guy’s in, he’s hurt. Move him to the other side. We had all those things going on. We felt like during the bye we could settle in on five guys. We were starting to get healthy.”
That helped cut back on the sacks and maybe took some of the pressure off the line. So did the commitment to the ground game.
The Bears are the only team to run it more than throw it over the past eight weeks, with 238 rushing attempts and 231 pass plays (including sacks). They’re keeping defenses off balance and that makes everyone’s job a little easier, including the line’s.
“We’re playing better,” Garza said. “We’re getting better every week and that’s all that matters.”
“You look at yourself,” he said. “What are you asking your kids to do? What are you doing? What can they handle? What do we want to do more of? What do you want to do less of? I thought as a staff, the guys did a nice job of that, and I thought Mike did a great job of collecting all that information and adjusting. It’s paid dividends for us.”
Notes: Brian Urlacher said the Soldier Field turf is negating the defense’s speed. Stingy for most of the year, the Bears have looked vulnerable in their last two home games, giving up 36 points in a loss to New England and 34 last week in a win over the New York Jets. “The footing at Soldier Field has been horrible,” Urlacher said. “We’re a fast team, and when you get us on a surface like that, it kind of takes a little of our speed.”
By Tom Fitton
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