The Chicago Bears have established their initial 53-man roster for the 2013 season and already have put themselves in a very concerning position with the depth in the trenches. The lone call it surprise of the cuts was the cut of J'Marcus Webb who came into camp with the opportunity to be the starting right tackle. Instead Webb was demoted to swing tackle and then upon his decision to mentally quit the team, he was axed all together. As a result the Bears will move forward with two injury prone offensive tackles on the offensive line.
Jonathan Scott was cut after he didn't play a single game in the preseason after dealing with a constant knee injury and Eben Britton now becomes the Bears primary backup after being one of the Bears' shakiest OL performers. Britton hasn't stayed healthy for an entire season in quite some time, but he made it through the preseason healthy. Britton was horrible in the few snaps he saw at LT getting slapped around by former Bears UDFA defensive end Mario Addison in the preseason game against the Panthers. The Bears need to find a real backup offensive tackle and do it quickly after cutting Webb and Scott and trading away Gabe Carimi.
If Jermon Bushrod is injured for any significant amount of time, the Bears are suddenly back to square one on the offensive line without a single adequate backup at either OT position. Phil Emery struggled with the personnel on the Bears roster a year ago, and is replicating that problem a year later.
Switch to the defensive line and the Bears are going with four true defensive tackles, one of which is a undrafted free agent rookie from Montana. Zach Minter has rightfully earned himself a spot on the 53-man roster with his effort in training camp and in preseason games, He played as well as could be as expected against the level of competition he faced week to week for four games. The hope is he can prove to be a solid legitimate backup DT. If not the Bears face a major problem if a starter winds up hurt, Minter suddenly becomes the primary backup, check that as it is he's a primary backup.
The decision to pass on a defensive tackle in the draft the last two years in addition to Phil Emery choosing to let go of some vested veterans has left the Bears with a gaping hole at the DT position. Henry Melton is back from a concussion, but there can be a question about whether or not he's truly back to 100-percent and will he be vulnerable to another concussion?
Zach Minter played well in the preseason, but how well will it translate over to the regular season? One of the best aspects of the Bears' defense under Lovie Smith was how often the Bears rotated in their DTs and how it kept them fresh for most of the game. Putting more pressure on your DTs in this era of quick tempo no-huddle offenses may not be the wisest thing to do to help keep your defense playing at a high level.
It is intriguing that the Bears haven't given though to bringing back Matt Toeaina to help with the depth. Toeaina wasn't a game breaker, but he always was adequate in the rotation. The overall talent on the defensive line is weaker than it has been over the last two seasons with the mismanagement of the salary cap and the refusal to sign players to league minimum salaries.
Phil Emery is struggling in terms of personnel management of the Bears' 53-man roster. In 2012 he juggled the safety rotation and had to bring in a guy off the street for the final regular season game. Injuries mounted and with no one on the roster, Emery was forced to try out some players on a Tuesday and then have then game ready as a primary backup by the game on Sunday. Now Emery is juggling the offensive tackle and defensive tackle spots on the roster. Emery could have kept Israel Idonije on the roster, but refused to for a reasonable price. Emery could have also have signed some players to contract extensions in the off-season to ease the tension on the salary cap and better solidify the depth, but he refused to do that as well.
Now a full month after the retirement of Sedrick Ellis and nearly a full month after Jonathan Scott injured his knee and with the week one opener looming Emery has put the Bears depth in a precarious position. A position he may not be able to fix without costing the Bears more money on their already tight salary cap situation. A team that is competing for a Super Bowl shouldn't have to hold its breath on the injury front, but the Bears will be hoping for the best in a game in which everyone seems to get hurt.