The assault on the Bears' offensive line didnt end when the group left San Francisco last Monday night. Offensive coordinator Mike Tice said Wednesday that the performances that allowed six sacks of Jason Campbell were being evaluated with an eye toward changing what and who didnt work.
And the quarterback who is expected to be behind that line Sunday against Jared Allen and the Minnesota Vikings was virtually conceding that the front five as it is currently constituted wasnt going to be enough.
Were going to have to help them, said quarterback Jay Cutler. Going to have to do some stuff protection-wise, chip, slant some guys, get the backs involved, some of the tight ends, be smart with our play-calling, try to limit the second-and-longs, third-and-long.
Theres a lot of things to do but ultimately theres going to be some times where weve got to let those five block and theyre going to have to do their jobs well.
That did not happen against San Francisco, where the only blockers to receive tolerable grades were center Roberto Garza and right guard Lance Louis. Not enough.
We have a couple of guys who are solid, who we can win with, Tice said. If three guys fail, you dont have much of a chance.
Right tackle Gabe Carimi was repeatedly embarrassed by bull rushes from undersized edge rusher Aldon Smith. Tice pointedly said of all his lineman that sometimes you have to buck up and win a fight, speaking about the inability of the tackles to handle straight-ahead power rushes.
Its pretty hard to chip and help out on bull rushes, Tice said.
Carimi went down in Week 2 last year with a season-ending knee injury. He has not indicated any problems this preseason and through the first 10 games of his de facto rookie season and Tice acknowledged that Carimi has handled himself as a professional.
But at the end of the day we all need better results," Tice said. Gabe is intense and if something happens early, he gets all worked up and doesnt settle down. It compounds and its happened more than once.
The alternative in a straight-up switch is veteran Jonathan Scott, signed after the first game but whose use has been largely as a third tight end.
Louis shifted from guard to tackle in 2010 and performed well enough in the Bears run to the NFC Championship game. But he has become arguably the Bears best lineman inside, a key if the Bears have any hope of establishing a viable run game.
In any case, Cutler left no doubt that what the front five did against the 49ers would not allow the Bears to be a winning football team.
The way we played against the 49ers, no, Cutler said. Were not going to be successful against anybody playing like that. But I dont think thats who they are. I think theyre better than that. Were going to have to do some things to help them out as well.