The last time Jay Cutler walked out of New Meadowlands Stadium, he left with a headache.
The Chicago Bears quarterback was sacked nine times in the first half of a game last October, an NFL record, and suffered a concussion along the way.
It was one of the dumbfounding parts of the Bears’ season as offensive coordinator Mike Martz continued to call pass plays. So, the reshaped offensive line went into Monday night’s game against the New York Giants with plenty to prove. Left tackle J’Marcus Webb and right guard Lance Louis were under fire for poor performances in the team’s first preseason game. Line coach Mike Tice made it clear change could be on the way.
But in an entire half of action Cutler was sacked only once, on a play where he should have thrown the ball away. That’s opposed to four sacks allowed by the starting offensive line against the Bills a week ago.
“Yeah, upright?” Cutler joked when asked if it felt different this time around. “A little bit different guys right now up front but I think they wanted to come out and have a good showing. After we started a little shaky, those guys evened out and I thought they played a really solid half.”
The line performed well enough that no changes are expected before the third preseason game Saturday at Tennessee. Louis stepped up and that means veteran center Chris Spencer likely remains a reserve. It was going to take more for Webb to be yanked out of the lineup.
“Both of those tackles (Webb and rookie Gabe Carimi) are young,” Cutler said. “They’re in different positions than they were last year, but they’re coming along. I think if we would’ve had some OTA’s and everything, we’d be a little farther along. With the amount of practices they’ve had on foreign sides, I don’t think we could ask for much more out of those two.”
Follow me on Twitter: @BradBiggs
Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune