Mike Martz settles on Bears' OL
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz held a state-of-the offense address Wednesday, during which he indicated the club's starting offensive line is finally set.
Martz also singled out the offensive line as the position group that has shown the most improvement at training camp.
"We're making good progress, particularly on the offensive line," Martz said. "We've settled on our front five there, and [offensive line coach] Mike [Tice] [has] done a terrific job of getting these guys ready. We've gotten better every day on the offensive line."
Desperately seeking methods and personnel to best protect quarterback Jay Cutler, who suffered a career-high 35 sacks last season, the Bears have exhausted nearly every resource at their disposal in putting together what they hope moving forward is a strong offensive line.
Since the start of the offseason conditioning program, the Bears have utilized several combinations up front. The latest tinkering along the offensive line involved long-time starting right guard Roberto Garza, who was moved last week from his normal spot to the left side. In Garza's place at right guard, the club inserted second-year veteran Lance Louis, who was inactive for most of last season.
"We've got Garza in there and Lance, and we feel like that's probably where it's gonna go. So we're gonna give them a chance to play together [Saturday at San Diego] and see how that works out," Martz said. "Each day that group is in the huddle, they've been in the same huddle now together for two days. So they've gotten remarkably better because the consistency, too, and they're good players. Like I said, I can't tell you enough how much work has gone into that group."
There's still plenty to come, based on Martz's assessment at other spots. Martz and Tice seem pleased with the situation at the guard positions, but both expressed concern about Frank Omiyale at the right tackle spot.
Tice told ESPNChicago.com on Tuesday that Omiyale "needs to understand what kind of effort it's gonna take for us to be an elite offensive line."
Martz said Omiyale is "not where he needs to be," before adding that "he's so talented, and he's got the ability to be an exceptional right tackle. He just needs, like all young players and guys at that position, just the little nuances. He'll be fine, but he's just got to fight his way through it."
Martz and Tice agree that Williams has been one of the pleasant surprises at camp. The coaches purposely left Williams and Omiyale without help -- in the form of a running back chipping or an extra tight end -- against defensive end Julius Peppers, who is widely considered one of the game's top pass rushers.
The coaches figured that daily battles with Peppers would enhance Williams' game as he heads into the season as Cutler's protection on the blind side.
"Julius has made him a better player; there's no question about that," Martz said of Williams. "He's had an impressive camp; not just in the passing game. Some of the things he's done in the running game have just kind of taken me back. We could go over there and help and chip Julius, but that would be the wrong thing to do. We've tried to leave those tackles alone on Peppers as much as possible. They've embraced that, and it's gonna make them better."
Michael C. Wright covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com.