Bears O-line knows ‘house is on fire,’ searches for answers

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Bears tackle Bobby Massie blocks J.J. Watt on Sunday. (AP)

The Bears’ offensive linemen need time. And they don’t have it.

“We gotta go,” guard Kyle Long said. “Our house is on fire. We gotta figure out a way to put it out.”

Answers didn’t come easy Sunday, when rookie Cody Whitehair made his first start at center — after playing 10 snaps there in the preseason — and left guard Josh Sitton made his Bears debut seven days after signing a contract.

While the line started strong, its play devolved in the second half because of poor performance and game circumstance. The stats show it: running back Jeremy Langford ran 17 times for only 57 yards on the game, while quarterback Jay Cutler was sacked five times and hurried on eight occasions.

The Texans played three outside linebackers and the same time and, in the second half, succeeded in stunting their defenders. In the fourth quarter, linebacker John Simon lined up along Sitton’s outside shoulder and looped around into a gap between Whitehair and Long, who was looking to his right, for the sack.

Working as a unit on stunts requires clear communication; the center said later he had to stop “leaving the guys next to me out to dry.”

Whitney Mercilus beat both Bears’ tackles for sacks, speeding past Bobby Massie — the right tackle never touched him — and getting a strip after powering past Charles Leno Jr. Cutler said the Bears “don’t see defenses like this week in and week out,” citing their ability to pressure without blitzing.

“Once we start to learn each other and learn where we’re gonna be and how we pass (stunting players) off and things, it’s going to be better,” Sitton said.

Long — who said his balky shoulder was healthy enough to play effectively — and Sitton allowed only one hurry between them, per Pro Football Focus.

The Bears undoubtedly want to run the football better behind one of the league’s best guard tandems. Langford seemed a half-step away from larger gains, too, before being tripped up at the second level of tacklers.

“I think I coulda made a lot more of the carries I had,” he said.

Cutler said the same, playing behind a line whose talent influx was weighed down, for one day at least, by stilted chemistry.

“I’m sure he’s probably going to be disappointed just looking at the stats,” he said. “I don’t think my stats are that great. Offensively, we weren’t where we were supposed to be.”

Follow me on Twitter @patrickfinley

Email: pfinley@suntimes.com

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