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Pompei: Bears’ 49ers debacle forces adjustments to forestall disaster

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012 10:15 a.m. CDT

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(MCT) — CHICAGO — Inspiration is the preferred method to induce beneficial change.

Desperation works too.

Gabe Carimi needs to be lined up at guard when the Bears resume practice Wednesday in preparation for the Seahawks.

Jonathan Scott needs to be settling it at right tackle.

Edwin Williams needs to be at the other guard position.

The game plan needs to assume J’Marcus Webb is going to struggle.

And Jay Cutler needs to be on the move.

It’s easy to see all of that now. But it took the offensive collapse against the 49ers in San Francisco for all of it to come into focus. The Bears offense should be better down the stretch as a result of that epic failure.

Carimi certainly could be served better for Aldon Smith and his gang of bullies exposing and destroying him.

Carimi first needed to be benched. He needed to step back, take a break and remove the world’s burdens off his shoulder pads. Then he needed to refocus and remember what confidence is.

It just wasn’t working at right tackle. He struggled too much with the one-on-one pass protection matchups.

Maybe at some point Carimi can be resurrected at tackle, but for now at least his career and his team really could benefit from a forced position switch.

We can’t be completely sure Carimi can play guard. But the early results are encouraging. Against the Vikings, with no preparation at the position, Carimi was effective in downhill run blocking. He pulled with some efficiency, as he has done from tackle.

Carimi is tough enough and strong enough to play guard. He has the speed to trap and get to the second level.

The concerns about him there are about his body style and quickness. Carimi is 6-foot-7 with 35-inch arms. Using him at guard, with all his extra length, is like using high top shoelaces for low top shoes.

The Bengals drafted Carimi’s former Wisconsin teammate Kevin Zeitler in the first round last year expressly to play guard. The difference between Zeitler and Carimi is 3 inches of height and 21/4 inches of arm length.

Longer arms are a benefit at tackle, where they help blockers force speed rushers to take a wider angle to get to the quarterback. But long arms can be a detriment for interior blockers who need to punch and keep defenders’ hands away quickly.

Carimi well may have a hard time against compact, quick-footed three-technique tackles. Fortunately for him, Henry Melton is on the schedule Wednesday through Friday, not Sunday.

At Carimi’s old position, Scott clearly was an improvement. He isn’t going to make anyone’s All-Pro team, and there is a reason he is on his fourth team in the last five years. Scott allowed a couple of pressures Sunday.

But he probably isn’t going to have the kind of meltdown that makes team trainers signal for the spine board. He is a veteran and a pro, and there is something to be said for that.

The Bears should expect Scott to be more consistent than Webb, who has been pretty good in most games, but who also has fallen to pieces inexplicably in others.

The good news is Webb has a real body of work now. Everyone knows what he is, and he cannot be expected to be something he has not been. That means offensive coordinator Mike Tice has to have answers in every game plan that will prevent Webb from being the fly in the Bears’ Pinot Grigio.

We’re still trying to figure out what Edwin Williams is, but it’s possible he has been underrated. Given how physical he plays, maybe he should have been starting at left guard all along.

Whether it’s Williams, Carimi or Chris Spencer at right guard Sunday, it’s likely none of them will be as proficient as Lance Louis had been. He was the Bears’ most dynamic and most consistent blocker this season, and replacing him has to be a group effort.

Included in that group are Tice and Cutler, who have to continue to keep Cutler moving so pass rushers don’t know where he will be. The Bears’ loss to the 49ers proved a stationary quarterback is going to be a sacked quarterback.

Bottoming out that day is what started the recovery process for the Bears. It’s all so clear from a sober perspective, now isn’t it?

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