If you follow the Chicago Bears’ starting left tackle on Twitter, 23 year-old J’Marcus Webb, you already know all about his affinity for women, tacos and something called “JWEBB NATION.” If you follow him on the football field, however, you know all about his struggles at tackle.
Let’s just get the realities of the situation out on the table now: J’Marcus Webb was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the seventh-round of the 2010 NFL Draft. He’s played one season at right tackle and one season at left tackle—both were below average.
Now here’s some more reality: if you’re going to try and groom a seventh-round Draft selection to be your starting left tackle, it’s going to take some patience. It going to take longer than one season, and it’s going to take a lot of hard work. Webb is, I will admit, talented, and the coaching staff seems to believe in him.
But don’t ask Bears fans to share either that belief or that patience; it’s not going to happen until something changes on the field. And it’s why no measure of big-talk, whether from Lovie Smith, Mike Tice or Webb himself, will garner much enthusiasm from real fans of the game.
For that to happen, football needs to be played, and improvement needs to be made. Webb may in fact do just that, but until that day comes, I’d suggest he tries a little modesty on for size. Here are some recent snippets from that aforementioned twitter account:
@jmarcuswebb: "This season has been changed from third and long to I GOT THIS!"
Okay, not bad at all. Perhaps a bit interesting, seeing as how the season hasn’t even started, thus how can it be changed to something, but no big deal. And this next one is really the same—no biggie—and is at least consistent with his mantra above:
Again, not so bad. But, assumedly, these short series of tweets caused some of his teammates to take notice, which apparently also spurred some conversation amongst peers, because shortly thereafter Webb tweeted this:
I won’t even comment on the irony of writing the question “whose dumb?” when it should read “who’s dumb?” but this isn’t English class, it’s football, dammit. Either way, I’m sure his teammates were relieved—along with all Chicago Bears fans—when he let us in on a little secret just days later:
@jmarcuswebb: “O-line will kick ass this year! Go Bears!”
The tweet above spurred quite a few responses from “JWEBB NATION,” including this one from a fella who calls himself Jay Rock:
@killerjrock: “@jmarcuswebb Now that your on the bench”
I’ll also refrain from commenting on Jay Rock’s grammar. Either way, Webb then responded ever so eloquently to Mr. Rock by saying . . .
@jmarcuswebb: “@killerjrock your face is on the bench!”
Kind of funny, really. And the truth is all of these tweets are in-and-of-themselves no big deal. But this last one, which I can only assume Webb wrote while eating tacos and looking at beautiful women, was the one that really put me over the edge:
Why should any of this bother me, a Chicago Bears fan?
Prior to the 2011 season, Pro Football Focus called Webb the worst RT in the league in pass protection and wondered why the Bears would then move him over to the quarterback’s blindside. Following the 2011 season, Pro Football Focus ranked Webb the worst full-time starter at LT in the NFL.
Two seasons, two titles of “worst.” And yet all the confidence in the world.
Mike Martz or no Mike Martz, Webb was responsible for 38 pressures in 2011 and was penalized a team-high 15 times for 82 yards, resulting in eight stalled drives. Football Outsiders agreed with PFF’s assessment, listing Webb “among the worst [left tackles] in the League.”
So, what’s my point? I’m not suggesting to anyone that Webb’s antics are directly detrimental to his team, and I’m not suggesting—as some might—that he should stop tweeting altogether. I think it’s cool that he connects with his fans and is so transparent about his feelings.
But the problem here is that Webb is a kid. He’s 23 years-old, and he’s no leader. Your starting left tackle doesn’t need to be the leader in the locker room necessarily, but he does need to eat a slice of humble pie from time to time. His teammates know exactly where the weak links in the chain are, and if Webb fails to produce on the field, they’ll soon have had enough of his big mouth, too.
Webb’s own quarterback has very serious concerns about his abilities, as made apparent in this quote to the Chicago Tribune just days ago: “The offensive line is definitely going to be a concern,” Cutler said. “Seeing where those guys fit in and seeing what five we go with. You know, if Gabe [Carimi] comes back, if J'Marcus [Webb] pans out [and] Chris Williams, where we're going to put him . . . there are some question marks there. Until we really get that resolved, get our front five settled, we've got some work to do on the offense.”
The two key phrases there being “If J’Marcus pans out” and “We’ve got some work to do.” That’s your quarterback, J’Marcus. And he’s right; you’ve got some work to do.