This Sunday the Bears will open their 2012 season at home against the "new-look" Indy Colts with rookie QB Andrew Luck starting for the horseshoes. What took me by surprise however was the fact that J'Marcus Webb will be starting at LT. This is a mistake... As Bill and I have said openly (among many others) is that the Bears problems on the O-Line begin and end with Webb.
J'Marcus Webb has been the most penalized member of the OL, and has allowed the most sacks. So why would Tice begin the season with this guy who has clearly been "deficient" at protecting Jay Cutler's blind side? Even during pre-season, Webb still showed his blaring weaknesses (bad stance, a myriad of false-starts, and holding penalties) as he's done time-and-time again. Should Cutler get injured in this first game, the blame will clearly be on Tice.
On the other hand, Tice's offense entails a considerable amount of short drop-back and slant passes which can disguise the obvious weaknesses we "still" have up front. However in the long-run, costly penalties and Webb's pension for getting beat often by more aggressive lineman in the league will catch-up to Cutler which will lead to rushed passes getting intercepted, and inevitable injury to himself or Matt Forte.
Webb's lack of talent will also lead to Tice being forced to keep his Tight Ends home for added protection in opposed to using them as receivers which he prefers. Another area that will hurt the offense (due to lacking strength at the tackle position) is our ability to run power sweeps more-so than running plays between the tackles.
This will be an immediate headache for both Lovie Smith and new GM Phil Emery. The Bears depth chart shows Webb being backed-up by Chris Williams who is listed as an OG. So it is apparent that we still have quit a bit of work to do on the OL going forward. Nonetheless, I still say that Emery did the right thing by tying other loose ends on the offense by bringing in much needed help at the skill positions.
With rookie WR Alshon Jeffery having a great camp and strong pre-season, He should quickly emerge as a viable play-maker opposite Brandon Marshall. Word also has-it that Devin Hester will resume his usual return duties on Special Teams. WR Dane Sanzenbacher considerably raised his stock with solid play in exhibition, then throw in Earl Bennett (and Johnny Knox should he return later in the season), and the Bears will have a considerable amount of depth in the passing game. You can also expect Cutler to utilize his backs (Forte, Bush, and rookie FB/TE Evan Rodriguez) as short pass options as well.
Overall, the Bears offense should have no trouble at all putting points on the board this year against some of the weaker defensive teams in the league this year. In fact, I strongly believe that our offense will no-doubt compensate for some of our short comings on defense. Usually, it has been the defensive unit that has bailed-out Chicago in years past, but this season will be a new experience.