Bears must fix line to contend

Chicago's struggles at tackle could derail any chance at postseason success

Updated: November 24, 2012, 12:16 PM ET
By Field Yates | ESPN Insider

Carimi/WebbGetty ImagesBear of a problem: Gabe Carimi and J'Marcus Webb are a glaring weakness for Chicago.

Rarely does a one-game sample provide an accurate snapshot of an NFL player or team, but the Chicago Bears were beaten up and beaten down by the San Francisco 49ers this past Monday night, specifically along the offensive line, which surrendered six sacks of fill-in quarterback Jason Campbell.

Five and a half of those came from 49ers star linebacker Aldon Smith, who dominated from both the right and left side of the defense, further calling into question the play of both of Chicago's offensive tackles: J'Marcus Webb (left) and Gabe Carimi (right).

The six overall sacks allowed on Monday brought Chicago's season total to 34, second most in the NFL. And although the Bears would be in playoff position if the season ended today, it doesn't. Six games is plenty of time for this problem to torpedo the Bears' playoff hopes. The question now is what are the Bears going to do about it?

Offensive coordinator (and former offensive line coach) Mike Tice spoke with reporters this week about what needed to be better from his line, saying, "At a certain point, a player, a man, needs to grit his teeth, buck up and win a fight."

As far as remedies are concerned, that's not the only change Tice will look to, as Carimi and left guard Chilo Rachal have both been demoted from the starting lineup.

Rachal previously replaced Chris Spencer after his early season struggles, and from my perspective, has been sufficient. The primary issues with the Bears' offensive line have appeared to be both Carimi and Webb.

Field Yates has previous experience interning with the New England Patriots on both their coaching and scouting staffs. A graduate of Wesleyan University (CT), he is a regular contributor to ESPN Boston's Patriots coverage and ESPN Insider.