By Laurence W. Holmes-
(CBS) If Bears coaches know who their starting left tackle is, they aren’t telling.
J’Marcus Webb and Chris Williams both played well, but that doesn’t mean the competition is over.
“A big emphasis has been placed on that position,” Bears head coach Lovie Smith said. “J’Marcus Webb has done some good things, Chris Williams has done some good things. We need both of those players. .. .Yes, their play picked up against a good defensive line.”
The Giants are a good measuring stick because they get pressure with their front four. They got close a couple of times, but never got Jay Cutler on the ground. In fact, over the past two games Cutler has had about 30 dropbacks and hasn’t been sacked once, which is good news for Webb and Williams
“Pass protection wise, (we were) pretty good,” offensive coordinator Mike Tice said. “(In) Pass protection they both passed and took a big jump forward and trying to make it hard on us to make a decision, which is good. No sacks, I didn’t see a ton of pressure. I thought protection-wise we were moving right where we need to be.”
That’s the good news. The bad news is that the Bears would like to see better push in the run game, which really hasn’t gotten going in the preseason. Matt Forte was stuffed on a few runs and looked like he never really got going. Cutler mentioned after the game that – that has to change.
“We gotta get the run game going,” Cutler said. “We gotta get Matt going. We’re not going to be a good offense if we can’t run the ball.”
Tice gave a more detailed answer of what the problem is.
“We actually had some mental errors in the run game that were easy things,” Tice said. “We focused so much on making sure that we were able to protect our quarterbacks. We just have to spend more time in the next 10 days honing up those things (run blocking). The one thing
I would say is when you call a play that’s called an inside zone, that means you’re not really working to a man. You’re working to a zone. So, we just have to make sure that we clean that up and that we’re on the same page and all working to the proper area.”
It’s unlikely that Cutler or Forte and the first team offense play much on Thursday. Making a final decision off of that game tape will be difficult. Tice thinks the next couple of days of practices, especially the individual work, will go a long way in determining who lines up at left tackle on September 9. Webb still seems to be in the lead, but Smith seemed happy with the progress of both tackles, so perhaps Williams is safe even if he isn’t a starter.
Over the last two games, the Bears have been impressed that the competition has brought out the best in of both guys and that there’s been actual improvement since the Denver game.
“We’ve gained more knowledge of where we’re at,” Tice said. “It was a really good test for us and I think the guys withstood that test.”