Inside the Huddle: Is the Bears’ offensive line coming together?

SHARE Inside the Huddle: Is the Bears’ offensive line coming together?

Bears RG Kyle Long raises his arms in celebration vs. the Texans. (AP)

Adam L. Jahns’ “Inside the Huddle” column appears in game-day editions of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Allowing one sack (when the quarterback trips) on 49 pass attempts is good news for most offensive lines, but right guard Kyle Long doesn’t want to hear it.

Not when the Bears are 0-3.

The problem is that the Bears attempted 49 passes in their loss last Sunday to the Cowboys in the first place. And it’s a major problem that the Bears rank 30th in the NFL in rushing after three weeks. That starts with Long and the line.

‘‘Anytime you throw the ball 49 times, you know something’s not going well,’’ Long said. ‘‘So we definitely don’t want to get into that situation.

‘‘But if we can do what we’re supposed to do in the running game and take some pressure off of the quarterback, we take some pressure off of ourselves instead of having to pass-block all these guys.’’

Still, keeping quarterback Brian Hoyer from frequently being thrown to the turf last week matters. It’s progress.

When the season began, the Bears’ offensive line was defined by its moving pieces. Everything was in flux after the team signed left guard Josh Sitton and moved rookie Cody Whitehair to center just before Week 1.

Now it’s one of the few position groups that hasn’t been ravaged by injuries. Since changing on the fly before Week 1, the line has had continuity. Now comes the chemistry.

With injuries forcing changes at quarterback and running back, the line needs to be a strength Sunday against a Lions defense that has yielded plenty of points and will be without two starters in end Ziggy Ansah and linebacker DeAndre Levy.

Long suggested success in the running game will be a true sign of the cohesiveness of the line. After all, zone-blocking runs require the line to move in unison.

But coach John Fox and offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains saw progress in the ability of the line to protect Hoyer when it was evident the Bears had to pass to avoid being completely embarrassed against the Cowboys.

In a similar situation — albeit against a better defense — Jay Cutler was sacked five times by the Texans in Week 1. All five sacks came on third down, including two in the fourth quarter, when the Texans took the lead.

The Eagles sacked Cutler three times in Week 2, so the performance of the line against the Cowboys was a much-needed sign of improvement.

‘‘Anytime that you’ve got to hold up in a game like that and the game gets lopsided, you start playing left-handed and throwing it,’’ Loggains said. ‘‘They did a nice job. Each one of them as a group stepped up and played better.’’

Chemistry affects coaching, too. Loggains has a better grasp for what his line does well after three games. His play-calling can accentuate the protection.

‘‘It definitely helps when you get the ball out quicker and you can incorporate your quick game and three-step stuff in it,’’ Loggains said.

As for the running game, there have been glimpses of success. Jeremy Langford had a 23-yard gain and Jordan Howard a 36-yard burst against the Cowboys.

But negative runs have plagued the offense. Howard, who will start against the Lions, had two runs in the second half against Cowboys that went for minus-three yards and two others that went for no gains.

‘‘[The line is] a chemistry position,’’ Fox said. ‘‘You’ve got to have guys operating pretty on top of it. That’s offensive football. One guy makes a mistake, and the whole play goes to you-know-what.’’

The hope is that the Bears can build on what they did last week, but there is no guarantee they can.

‘‘You can see the light in the dark right there,’’ left tackle Charles Leno Jr. said of the game against the Cowboys. ‘‘We did lose the game, but we’re trying to build every week. That’s what it comes down to. Just progress.’’


Opposing views

Calvin who? The Lions signed receiver Marvin Jones to a five-year, $40 million contract to help replace superstar Calvin Johnson, who retired after last season.

So far, it has been money well-spent. He’s the early leader for the best free-agent addition this season.

Jones, who is 6-2 and 198 pounds, entered Week 4 with a league-leading 408 receiving yards. He also is averaging a whopping 22.7 yards per catch.

Lions coach Jim Caldwell said Jones runs all routes well. He forms a dangerous receiving tandem with Golden Tate.

‘‘The thing that he’s been able to do is catch the ball and be effective a number of different ways — short, intermediate and long passes,’’ Caldwell said of Jones. ‘‘Oftentimes, you may find a guy who has a niche in terms of routes and things of that nature. But he’s shown a lot of flexibility in terms of the routes he can run.’’

Tighten up

Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said second-year cornerback Jacoby Glenn has stood out when covering deep passes this season.

Glenn’s speed allows him to catch up to underthrown balls. He also has shown good instincts when the ball arrives, breaking up five passes in three games.

But Glenn must improve on shorter throws if he’s going to hold off rookie Deiondre’ Hall and cement himself as a starter. He has allowed too much separation, and that starts with betters jams at the line, his footwork and more fight.

‘‘We’ve got to get him to play tighter and more aggressive on the shorter throws and improve his overall play that way,’’ Fangio said.

Glenn’s slim build — he’s listed at 6-0 and 185 pounds — puts him at a disadvantage against some receivers, including Jones and Tate this week. Both are bigger than he is.

‘‘You just have to go out and compete,’’ Glenn said. ‘‘Size doesn’t mean nothing at all.’’

Locker-room buzz

Rookie linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski’s ability to send Cowboys guard La’el Collins flying back and onto his behind on a blitz was a highlight during film review.

‘‘It was just a normal play, nothing too crazy,’’ Kwiatkoski said. ‘‘I was just ready to get downhill. . . . But going over the film, it wasn’t exactly the best day.’’

The Cowboys ran for nearly 200 yards. On their first play from scrimmage, Ezekiel Elliott raced past Kwiatkoski, who was blocked by center Travis Frederick, for a 21-yard gain. Kwiatkoski met Frederick at the point of attack but was out of position.

‘‘It was definitely a learning process,’’ Kwiatkoski said. ‘‘I put myself in a bad position from the beginning, just with my alignment.’’


6.2 – Bears rookie running back Jordan Howard’s average yards per carry last year in college when he played for Indiana. Howard will start Sunday. Bears running backs are averaging 3.4 yards per carry this season.

12 – The combined number of sacks, tackles for loss and quarterback hurries that Lions defensive tackle Kerry Hyder has after three games, according to league statistics. His four sacks are tied for the second-most in the NFL.

26-24 – The score of the Bears’ last win over the Lions, which was Lovie Smith’s last game as coach on Dec. 30, 2012. In typical Lovie fashion, the Bears forced four turnovers in the victory at Ford Field.


The Latest
Police say the 39-year-old man was on the sidewalk in the 100 block of North Green Street before 11:30 p.m. when the driver in a red sedan fired and shot the man in the face.
Laphonza Butler is a former labor leader who now heads Emily’s List, an organization that supports Democratic women candidates who supports abortion rights.
The president tells allies that the U.S. commitment remains strong. But Republican resistance to giving aid to Ukraine has grown, and Speaker Kevin McCarthy may tie additional funds to efforts to protect the southern U.S. border.
The Illini, 2-3 after a 44-19 loss at Purdue, are the most disappointing team in what arguably is the worst Big Ten West division ever.