(CBS) As we count down to Bourbonnais, a panel of 15 670 The Score hosts, reporters and producers ranked their top 10 most important Bears players for the 2012 season. We compiled the rankings into one master list and will release the 10 Most Important Bears over the next 10 weekdays.
No. 3 J’Marcus Webb and Chris Williams (89 points)
Since Jay Cutler joined the Bears before the 2009 season, the quarterback has been sacked 110 times, including a league-leading 52 times in 2010. He was sacked 23 times in 10 games during the 2011 season – a total that will need to drastically reduce if the Bears intend to rise atop the NFC North.
Protecting Cutler’s blindside at left tackle in 2012 will likely be either J’Marcus Webb or Chris Williams. All reports point to a Bourbonnais battle between the two offensive lineman for the starting gig.
Williams, a first-round selection in 2008, started the first nine games of the 2011 season at left tackle before being placed on the injured reserved list with a dislocated wrist. Webb, a seventh-round selection out of West Texas A&M, struggled mightily in 2011, committing a league-high 15 penalties.
With former offensive coordinator Mike Martz and his seven-step drops gone from the Bears, the protection schemes should be easier in 2012. Still, the success of Williams and Webb will directly correlate to the success of the Bears’ offense and team overall.
The 10 Most Important Bears were decided by 15 Score contributors who ranked their most important players from 1-10. The rankings were then compiled into a master list by assigning point values to the votes (a No. 1 vote is worth 10 points and a No. 10 vote is worth 1 point).
The panel: Mike Mulligan, Zach Zaidman, Laurence Holmes, Matt Spiegel, Adam Hoge, Jason Goff, Matt Abbatacola, Ben Finfer, Jay Zawaski, Nick Shepkowski, David Schuster, Herb Lawrence, Craig Miller, Dennis Gambino and Brendan McCaffrey.