By Dan Bernstein-
CBSChicago.com Senior Columnist
(CBS) It never felt right that a shaky offensive line seemed so desperate to retain a mediocre center.
Olin Kreutz at 34 is more reputation than ability, more intangible than tangible, more history than future. That he was viewed as so important to the Bears’ success this year – both by fans and teammates – speaks more to their problems blocking opponents than anything else.
Without a competing offer in hand, Kreutz tried to pit the team against itself, relying on players to campaign for him publicly and coaches to lobby in private, all while Jerry Angelo and Tim Ruskell held the line on their final proposal: one year, $4 million.
The message from upper management, as they excise the unquestioned leader of the offense?
Get over it and grow up. That goes for those in uniform and those with clipboards and whistles.
Do your jobs. Call the play, run the play, and execute your assignment, without worrying about what “57” thinks of anything you’re doing.
You know who should lead the offense? The franchise quarterback. Go ahead and lead, Jay. All clear for you to assert whatever personality you may have. Prove the doubters wrong who keep comparing you to Jeff George, and show how teammates can unite behind you.
You know who’s in charge of the offensive line? The offensive line coach. Mike Tice was a head coach in the NFL, and he’s perfectly capable of commanding the meeting room. The offensive coordinator can hold his own, too, when it comes to exercising authority – I think he’ll be ok.
Most importantly, you know who the “locker room leader” is? The head coach, who makes enough money that he shouldn’t need any player’s blustery presence to help him communicate effectively and on message.
Seattle castoff Chris Spencer takes over at center, following an all-time great who was well past his prime. Kreutz may be the best anyone has ever seen at huddle-breaks and line-calls, pointing out the “mike” ‘backer and making various other pre-snap gesticulations, but that isn’t as valuable to the team as stopping the man in front of you. Ndamukong Suh, BJ Raji and Nick Fairley don’t care about how many years you’ve been a Bear, or how you mentor rookies.
With a line already this reshuffled and uncertain, what’s the definite harm? Roberto Garza can stay at right guard, Gabe Carimi can develop on his own (perhaps the kid’s intelligence and work ethic were viewed to be sufficient enough, and not in need of a de facto assistant positional coach?), and decisions can be made on where Chris Williams, J’Marcus Webb and Frank Omiyale fit best.
Everyone likes to pay attention to the tackles, because it’s easier to see when they get beat on the open edges, but the interior of the line had plenty of its own dreadful performances last year. And while Mike Martz may have been chastened into calling more runs and fewer slow-developing, vertical passing sets, he’s still the same guy, and he’s going to run his stuff – the seven-step drops will be used and must be blocked.
So let’s drop the emotional and political sensitivity and just get on with it, then. A Bears team that seemed convinced it couldn’t live without Olin Kreutz now must do so.
Toddlers have to give up that favorite stuffed animal sometime.
Addicts only need their next fix because they can’t imagine coping with existence otherwise, even if going cold turkey is the best thing for them.
Safety Chris Harris was quick to take to Twitter as the news came out Sunday afternoon. “Olin Kreutz departure won’t sit well in the locker room for a few days,” he wrote. “Sad day n Chicago he was the glue in locker room.”
Quit sniffing it.
Dan Bernstein has been the co-host of “Boers and Bernstein” since 1999. He joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995. The Boers and Bernstein Show airs every weekday from 1PM to 6PM on The Score, 670AM. Read more of Bernstein’s blogs here. Follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein.
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