Lovie Smith isn’t one to discuss personnel moves on Mondays, but you can say this about today’s media session for the head coach–he didn’t rule out a possible change on the offensive line before the Bears play at Cincinnati on Sunday.
All you need to know about the Bears’ effort to run the ball Sunday night at Atlanta is that quarterback Jay Cutler was the game’s leading rusher by virtue of a 30-yard dash he made in the fourth quarter. Running back Matt Forte was bottled up, held to a career-low 23 yards on 15 rushes. His long rush was five yards against a Falcons’ defense that had consistently been run on in the first month of the season.
It’s not like Smith has a range of options. Guard Josh Beekman started 16 games last season and was with the first team through the majority of training camp. He could return to left guard and replace Frank Omiyale. If the Bears wanted to try a new look at tackle, they could turn to Kevin Shaffer, and experienced starter before with Cleveland and Atlanta. If a move is coming, it would most likely involve Beekman only, but Smith spoke mostly in general terms.
“We’re 3-2 so the offensive line has done some good things,” he said. “They’ve contributed to all of that. Coming off of a loss we’re not real pleased with anything we did last night, starting with me. I’m not pleased with a lot of things I did last night. We’ll go from there. But our offensive line has done some good things.”
Smith was then asked if he could forecast any changes coming on the line and gave his standard reply for such inquiries–they look at every possible scenario after every single game.
“But I don’t foresee any major changes on the offensive line,” he said.
So I asked him in a follow up if turning to an experienced previous starter like Beekman would constitute a “major change” to use his term.
“Would it be a major change?” Smith said. “That would be a change. I don’t know about major. It would be a change. Again, we’re evaluating everything like we do each week. No more than that. Josh has done a good job for us.”
It’s not like the team has any options at running back to jump start the running game. Kevin Jones is on injured reserve. Garrett Wolfe provided a brief spark against the Falcons, and might have earned himself some more work moving forward. Adrian Peterson is working his way back from a sprained right knee. Smith said there are not any lingering injury issues for Forte–hamstring, knee, toe–and noted he has not been on the injury report.
“He didn’t have a lot of production last night the way a lot of us didn’t,” Smith said. “I don’t think any more than that. The week before we weren’t talking about any of these things. Matt will be fine just like the rest of our team.”
Forte has looked slow to the hole, but maybe that’s because the holes have been smaller and harder to find. We’ll see if Beekman is charged with opening up some wider ones later this week. Stay tuned.
NOTE: Smith said that linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa will undergo an MRI on his right knee today. That is the same knee he injured in the opener at Green Bay, causing him to miss three games.