Key Matchup: The Bears Offensive Line Against The Bills Fierce Pass Rush

Key Matchup: The Bears Offensive Line Against The Bills Fierce Pass Rush
The Bears' starting five in front of Jay Cutler must find a way to stop Mario Williams and the Bills pass rush in Sunday's season opener.

Every NFL team if not all of them are filled with loafty goals and aspirations heading into their respective season openers. However, some have big concerns on their team and with their opponents.

Arguably the biggest concern for the Bears on Sunday against the Bills comes in the trenches. The Bears offensive line will be facing off against a loaded Buffalo defensive line.

The Bills were second in the league a season ago in sacks with 57, while also finishing tied for third with 113 pass deflections. Former Lions head coach Jim Schwartz takes over a group that Mike Pettine improved dramatically over the past few years.

Defensive end Mario Williams, who the Texans selected with the No. 1 overall pick in 2006 has made a huge impact since signing a big contract with Buffalo two seasons ago. Williams, 29, finished third in the NFL last season in sacks with 13.

“It’ll be our entire offense’s responsibility to make sure we do whatever we can to keep him from making those types of plays that can be difference-making plays in a game,” Bears head coach Marc Trestman said about Mario Williams.

The fierce pass rush doesn’t solely come from Williams, who often commands double teams. Defensive tackle Kyle Williams and defensvie end Jerry Hughes each recorded 10 sacks a season ago.

Don’t forget about fourth-year defensive tackle Marcel Dareus, who has 18.5 sacks in three seasons, including a career-high 7.5 in 2013.

Pass-rush specilaist Manny Lawson and safety Da’Norris Searcy round out the ground with talented group, with four and 3.5 sacks respectively last season.

On the brightside of all this, the Bears’ offense ranked second overall last season in points (445), while allowing the fourth fewest sacks (30) and converting on over 37 percent of third-down conversions.

It’s certainly not a good thing that right tackle Jordan Mills (left foot) hasn’t appeared in any preseason games this year. It’s also not good that right guard Kyle Long and left guard Matt Slauson each have missed some time in training camp as well.

But, Left tackle Jermon Bushrod and center Roberto Garza have been there through it all.

Versatile Michael Ola, backup guard/center Brian de la Puente (limited practice-knee) and rookie tackle Charles Leno Jr. will backup the Bears starting five.

Bears’ offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer returns the same starting 11, which includes the solid offensive line that helped this offense transformed its identity a season ago.

That starting five allowed only 10 sacks between Cutler and Josh McCown in eight home games at Soldier Field in 2013. Kromer’s former team, New Orleans, recorded the highest total with three in Week Five.

The biggest concern has to lie with Mills, who didn’t start practicing in full until August 20. He feels that he’s ready, however, according to Trestman there’s a chance Ola could rotate in and out with Mills if he’s inefficient.

Keep in mind that Mills allowed a team-high 78 pressures as a rookie last season, including 62 hurries. Bushrod finished second-worst, allowing 41 hurries.

It won’t be easy for the Bears to stop the Bills pass rush that doesn’t just come from the Williams duo or Hughes, but also from safety Searcy.

Two of the most talented Bills defenders from a season ago are no longer available to play as Jarius Byrd signed a lucrative deal with the Saints this off-season and linebacker Kiko Alonso was placed on the reserve/non-football injury list with a torn ACL.

The battle in the trenches should be one of the most interesting storylines in this season opener as the Bears look to start the season off on the right foot.

On The Flip Side

The Bears’ revamped defense certainly has to be worried about going up against the second-ranked rushing offense from a season ago. The Bills running backs averaged just about 144 rushing yards per game in 2013.

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