Chicago Bears general manager Jerry Angelo not only defended his offensive line's play during Sunday's 30-13 loss to the New Orleans Saints, but Angelo also praised the Bears' offseason efforts to improve the beleaguered unit.
Jay Cutler was sacked a league-worst 52 times during the regular season last year, and he's already been sacked 11 times in two games this season. The Saints dropped him six times and hit him 16 times.
"We did everything you could possibly do to that [offensive line] position," Angelo told the Bears' website. "Nobody did more than the Chicago Bears."
The Bears drafted offensive tackle Gabe Carimi with their first pick, 29th overall. Carimi suffered a subluxation of the right kneecap Sunday and will be sidelined "a while," according to coach Lovie Smith.
Angelo signed former Seattle Seahawks center Chris Spencer to replace Olin Kreutz. But Spencer couldn't land a starting spot and actually started at right guard to replace the injured Lance Louis on Sunday. Kreutz, meanwhile, is anchoring the Saints' offensive line.
"We drafted a player in the first round," Angelo told the website. "We brought in a player with a lot of NFL experience who is still in his prime. We developed young players who are going into their second and third years, including another high draft pick in Chris Williams.
"We like our eight linemen. That's not an issue. Injuries happen, and then you have to adjust accordingly. Everything bad that happened on Sunday wasn't all because of poor offensive line play. Believe me when I tell you that. It was a collective failure. The defense and special teams share part of that as well. So let's not beat up on the offensive line."
That might be easier said than done considering the health problems with Carimi and Louis, and the fact the Bears next host the Green Bay Packers, who are tied for fourth in the NFL with seven sacks.
"I'm not worried about [the offensive line]," Cutler said on Wednesday. "We're 1-1. There's still a lot of football to be played. If this continues, then obviously we're gonna have a problem. We're gonna have to address it. But I'm looking forward to this game. I know the guys are gonna bounce back, as will I."
Part of the way the Bears are hoping to better protect Cutler is by balancing the offense more evenly. Cutler attempted 45 passes against the Saints, compared to 12 rushing attempts.
"We want to protect him more," Smith said. "He took too many hits the other day. He acknowledged that, and we're working on protecting him more."