O-line keeps rolling with new parts
Williams steps in at left guard, unit doesn't allow a sack
J'Marcus Webb, right, and the offensive line provided Bears QB Jay Cutler with plenty of time to throw during Sunday's win over the Chargers. (Nuccio DiNuzzo/Tribune photo)
By Fred Mitchell, Chicago Tribune reporter 8:32 p.m. CST, November 20, 2011
The reshuffled Bears offensive line didn't seem to miss a beat Sunday, not allowing a sack and routinely providing quarterback Jay Cutler an extra second or so to create plays. (I'll give the line some credit but I'll give even more to Cutler's feet and pocket prescence)
What does that extra second mean to Cutler?
"It means (the difference between) completions or incompletions, or sacks and incompletions," Cutler said after the Bears' 31-20 triumph over the Chargers. "If we can keep protecting the way we've been protecting, we're going to make some plays outside (the pocket) and make some plays in the passing game."
Edwin Williams filled in at left guard in place of Chris Williams, who was put on season-ending injured reserve last week with a wrist injury. The rest of the line had J'Marcus Webb at left tackle, Roberto Garza at center, Chris Spencer at right guard and Lance Louis at right tackle.
"They did a good job of stepping up," coach Lovie Smith said. "You know … new guys … I know we say that quite a bit, but it's always the next guy up for us. Edwin Williams, of course. Frank (Omiyale) got in there a little bit too. They stepped up, which the team needed them to do."
One of the biggest benefactors of the pass protection was wide receiver Roy Williams, who caught a team-high five passes for 62 yards. Cutler connected with Williams on three straight passes for 34 yards during one scoring drive, including an 11-yarder on third-and-4 from the Bears 23.
"It makes it easier on me," Williams said of the additional time the line provides Cutler. "I am such a long strider. I'm not like Johnny (Knox) and Devin (Hester) and Earl (Bennett). They take five steps and they're barely at 5 yards. It takes a while for me to get going. So that extra second is good for everybody. (Does he have an excuse for everything? Even the time it takes to get open?)
"That's one thing that our offensive line has been doing here lately. And they have been opening up the holes for the running game. So the hat goes off to our offensive line."
Cutler completed passes to seven receivers, including touchdowns to Knox and tight end Kellen Davis. He has 63 touchdown passes in 41 games as a Bear, tying him for fourth in franchise history with Ed Brown (98 games) and Erik Kramer (49 games). (Nice to see us use a TE as something more than an undersized OT. Jay did a nice job of finding him and squeezing that ball between two Chargers. Sure as hell Davis wasn't the primary read)
"Jay did a great job of getting rid of the football, moving around in the pocket," Garza said. "Edwin did a great job stepping in and allowing us to keep going and doing the things that we've been successful at. Today we weren't able to run the football as well as we would have liked, but Jay and the receivers did a hell of a job getting those plays over the top."
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