Bears believe they’ll benefit more by showing less
BY ADAM L. JAHNS Staff Reporter August 22, 2013 9:51PM
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Updated: September 24, 2013 6:39AM
Coach Marc Trestman likes to keep secrets.
The Bears’ preseason offense won’t carry over into the regular season. The formations and personnel groupings will be different as will the plays. Like other new coaches, Trestman doesn’t want to provide the league with any good tape by showing too much.
“It’s different,” Trestman said. “We’re doing a lot of things in practice that we’re not putting in games, and that’s pretty much universal. We’re going to work on things that we need to get ready for the season, but there’s that balance.”
The “balance” deals with weighing the negatives of not having his real offense face unfamiliar opponents. But the Bears believe they’re finding out plenty against one of the best defenses in the league on a daily basis. Plus, the players like having the advantage of the unknown.
And Trestman’s offense is truly the great unknown. He has been out of the league for nearly a decade, and it can’t operate like his Montreal Alouettes version. The same can’t be said about other new coaches or even the Philadelphia Eagles’ Chip Kelly, whose offense at Oregon has been thoroughly studied.
“When you’re a new team, you can go at it one of two ways: You can throw it all out there or you can kind of keep it because no one really knows what you’re going to do,” quarterback Josh McCown said. “We’ve taken that [second] approach and haven’t shown very much. It’s going to benefit us, hopefully, in the long run. . . . Being a new offense and putting new stuff together, it makes sense to hold it and fire when it counts.”
The Bears’ offensive starters will play at least a half Friday against the Oakland Raiders. And while there are goals — Trestman said he wants to see more balance in the passing game — they’ll still hold back.
“We’re working everything in practice, and we’re reducing it all for games,” Trestman said.
Of course, such a philosophy puts a strong emphasis on practice. And no one has been able to see what the Bears are doing in practice since training camp ended.
“The stuff that we’re doing in practice and the way we’re headed offensively,” McCown said, “we’re definitely excited about it.”
Some aspects have been established: There are West Coast concepts, a zone-blocking scheme will be used, running back Matt Forte will be everywhere, Jay Cutler’s reads will be quick and he’ll have options at the line of scrimmage.
But the Bears do have a plan offensively for the preseason. Essentially, they wanted to get their starters some game action — receiver Brandon Marshall and Forte were featured against the San Diego Chargers — while seeing what other players excel at individually. The latter is especially true for the offensive linemen, backup receivers and others vying for spots.
“We do go in with the philosophy of what we can learn from this game — we want to pull [guard] Kyle [Long], we want to run right, we want to feature a certain player, we want to make sure this guy gets enough reps so we can evaluate him on tape during a game and not just in practice,’’ Trestman said. “We sit down as a staff and [discuss] what our philosophy is going to be in terms of how we’re going to play the game, but also how we’re going to play them individually. And when we play them, what do we need to see to help our evaluation.”
And by doing so, only so much is revealed.
Trestman’s offense is still evolving.
“We haven’t deleted anything [from the playbook], but we will as we move into the next two weeks,” Trestman said. “Where are we going to start the season? What do we want to be in the first two, three games until we find a little bit more of who we are? We’re getting closer.”