Webb remains part of the Bears' future

J'Marcus Webb didn't exactly shine at left tackle in 2011. AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

INDIANAPOLIS -- Bears coach Lovie Smith joined offensive coordinator Mike Tice in support of left tackle J’Marcus Webb, who remains “a part of our future” despite an up-and-down 2011 season.

“J’Marcus is a heck of a football player,” Smith said Wednesday from the NFL Combine. “I’ll just start out with that. We like him. As far as having a couple bad games, I had a lot of bad games. I think everybody on our team had more bad games than we needed to this past year.”

Webb seemed to experience more shaky outings than the rest of his offensive line counterparts in 2011. But late in the season Tice lauded Webb for his play against some of the game’s best pass rushers, while acknowledging the rising third-year tackle’s penchant for technical lapses.

According to Pro Football Focus, Webb ranked as the league’s worst full-time starter at left tackle as he allowed 38 pressures. Webb also racked up a team-high 15 penalties for 82 yards, which resulted in eight stalled drives.

Still Smith -- like Tice -- seems to think that Webb’s natural talent combined with experience and a full offseason with the team might lead to the tackle elevating his game in 2012. Webb’s prowess as a run blocker should give him a leg up on the team’s new offensive system, which will feature more of an emphasis on the rushing attack than in years past.

Smith said that Tice won’t “get too far away from the offensive line” in the new role as offensive coordinator, which could also pay dividends for Webb’s development.

Here’s what Tice said about Webb’s development back in December:

“I thought he's having a good year. Last week I thought he had a little bit of a setback. He struggled a little bit in the pass protection. I think he's been blocking extremely well in the run game, especially on the back side of runs. On the back side of runs, he's cut out the backside of the defense time and time again; the whole season. He's developed into a solid run blocker, and an excellent run blocker on the backside, which is what we do. Pass-wise, he got beat inside on that first third down [against Seattle], and he kind of went into a little funk. I couldn't get him to snap out of it. It was some technique things that fell apart on him.”