The New York Giants have one of the best, if not the best, defensive lines in the NFL. Last season, the club finished third in the league in sacks (48). The pass rush was one of the main reasons the Giants were able to win a championship in 2011.
The Chicago Bears have the pleasure of facing said defensive line on Friday during the team's third preseason game. For a club that is still working out the kinks along the offensive line, New York is an imposing test.
Against the Giant's pass rush, Chicago's front five will face their biggest challenge of the offseason.
"They rotate in that front four, that can play like those guys, so it’s going to be a tough test for [the offensive line]," Jay Cutler said today. "We’re going to try and help them out as much as possible, but at the end of the game we’ll have a pretty good idea on what we have up front."
Based on the way coordinator Mike Tice has handled the offensive line so far this preseason, don't be surprised if he does some shuffling up front during the game. During the team's second preseason game Saturday, starting left guard Chris Spencer struggled during his first few series and was immediately replaced by Chilo Rachal.
Expect Tice to go forward with that same mindset of rotating players until he finds a group with which he's happy.
"I’d say the communication is coming along," said Rachal. "This is our first year with a lot of us playing together, so it takes time to jell, but right now I feel we’re doing pretty good."
The offensive line was, for the most part, ignored this offseason, both in free agency and the draft. Friday's game will see the starters play into the third quarter at least, meaning we'll get a good idea of how much room is still left for improvement.
"[The Giants] have some guys, they’re really long, they’re fast, they can bull-rush, they can speed-rush," Cutler said. "It’s going to be challenge for those guys.”
The biggest challenge is at left tackle, where neither J'Marcus Webb nor Chris Williams has been able to solidify himself as the starter. Both played well last week, although the Redskins lost their best pass rusher, Brian Orakpo, early in the game. The Giants will give one of these players the opportunity to show he's the man for the job.
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.