As the new leader on the line, Bears center Roberto Garza has been thrust into an ever-changing, often-troubling situation this season. But the 11th-year lineman has been around and, he insists, learned from one of the best. That experience, he said, has helped guide him through these tough times. It has also helped guide this line back to respectability, if you believe what you saw last week.
LAKE FOREST — As the new leader on the line, Bears center Roberto Garza has been thrust into an ever-changing, often-troubling situation this season.
But the 11th-year lineman has been around and, he insists, learned from one of the best. That experience, he said, has helped guide him through these tough times. It has also helped guide this line back to respectability, if you believe what you saw last week.
“It takes the whole offense, everybody working together, to get that kind of productivity,” Garza said. “Obviously there were a couple of games out there where I felt like we took a step back, and we can’t do that. Now we have to go out there and continue to build on what we did last week.”
Because of injuries and ineptness the Bears went with their fifth different offensive-line lineup in their sixth game. Garza has helped the team battle through it, and never uses injuries as an excuse.
“It’s just a part of the NFL. It happens every week,” Garza explained. “Guys get hurt, and guys have to step up. So it’s not an excuse, and we have to go out and get the job done.”
That’s just what they did Sunday night. With Garza at center, Chris Williams (guard) and J’Marcus Webb (tackle) on the left side and Chris Spencer (guard) and Lance Louis (tackle) on the right, the Bears’ line had one of, if not the best game of the season in the 39-10 win over the Vikings.
Quarterback Jay Cutler was sacked just once and hit once more and the Bears were productive in the passing game (258 yards and two TDs) and in the run game (119 yards and a TD). Although Cutler was hesitant to throw praise the offensive line’s way, he did show his ever-growing confidence in Garza as the Bears get set to head to London for Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay.
“Since Day 1 of training camp, I’ve never had a problem with him, and never doubted what he could do in there. He’s a smart guy,” Cutler said. “He helps those guys out in a lot of ways. For him to step into that role when Olin (Kreutz) left speaks volumes about him as a person and a player.”
Garza has been the one constant since the team opened training camp, when he first took over for his friend and former line-leader, Kreutz. Garza said he still keeps in touch with Kreutz, who was not brought back by the Bears and later signed with Carolina, and Garza still reverts back to things he learned from Kreutz during the heat of the battle.
“I’ve been sitting back watching Olin do this for seven years, six years that I’ve been here, and I was fortunate to see how he dealt with things, and I’m trying to do things like he would,” the 6-foot-2, 310-pound, 32-year-old said. “He’s still a resource for me, too, so maybe I would call him and see how he would do things. But all the guys have been working together, and it’s about us coming together and doing our job.”
Cutler has still had to deal with a high number of sacks (19). But for the first time in over a year, he’s not the most-sacked QB in the league. St. Louis’ Sam Bradford has now absorbed an NFL-high 21 sacks.
The center, who was a guard for most of his career until this year, is a key reason why.
“Garza is vocal when he needs to be, but he really works hard at it, and everybody sees that,” Williams said. “You just can’t ask for anything else as far as a leader.”
Bears reporter Jay Taft can be reached at 815-987-1384 or firstname.lastname@example.org.