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Cutler says maligned offensive line is improving

The Sports Xchange
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Bears general manager Jerry Angelo realizes if his team is going to surpass what last season's team accomplished by reaching the NFC Championship Game, it's imperative that last year's No. 30 offense has to improve.

"It absolutely has to; it needs to do that," Angelo said. "They know it, we know it, and there's no reason they can't do it. You have to be able to score points. We don't feel that there's any reason we are not going to be a lot better than we were last year and do the things we need to do on that side of the ball to be a contender.

"We have a lot of good parts on offense. The offensive line is still a work in progress, but we like our linemen and the traits that they have, based on what we're going to ask them to do."

The Bears have devoted a lot of resources to the offense since last season, using their first-round pick on Gabe Carimi, who is starting at right tackle, adding wide receiver Roy Williams, tight end Matt Spaeth and running back Marion Barber in free agency. Williams is already in the starting lineup, Spaeth will probably share time with Kellen Davis and, in the early going, Barber seems to be the productive complement to Matt Forte that the Bears though they were getting last year with disappointing Chester Taylor.

Quarterback Jay Cutler said the first-string line improved during Monday night's preseason game against the Giants.

"Yeah, we missed some OTA's, we missed some mini-camps. We've got some new parts in there, some new players and new offensive linemen," he said. "Everyone is working through it, so overall we're heading in the right direction and we made some steps."

The offensive line remains a question mark, but Angelo is confident the current group is an improvement over last year's unit.

"Even though we have four players that presently are playing new positions, we at least have the benefit now of (it) being the second year in the system," Angelo said. "Collectively I feel much better about our situation compared to last year, when we had new players and a new system. I would take this every day of the week."

From left to right, the Bears are lining up with J'Marcus Webb, Chris Williams, Roberto Garza, Lance Louis and Carimi.

The offensive staff wanted the team to be bigger up front, and the current configuration accomplishes that. Surprisingly, considering Mike Martz is the offensive coordinator, it looks as if the Bears might be more of a running team this year, especially if the hard-running Barber continues to impress.

"It doesn't necessarily say we're not going to throw the football," Angelo said. "You have to throw the football and throw it well. It's just that we're able to do things better with our offensive line that we weren't able to do last year. The one thing you want to do is create that (run-pass) balance. When you have that balance, you can play-action and throw on first down, which is a great down to throw on, and you can get the ball downfield."

Martz isn't known as the type to embrace change, especially when it involves scaling back the passing game, but Angelo believes he will utilize the talent he has in the most efficient way.

"Mike Martz is a very good coach," Angelo said. "He's got a great resume, and all great coaches that I've been around, they adapt. They can do anything they want, based on what they have. I feel Mike is very comfortable with our personnel, and we have the ability to create some different packages, with the different types of players that we have at some positions."

Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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