Will the Bears’ offense work when it matters?
BY RICK TELANDER email@example.com | @ricktelander September 4, 2013 9:18PM
Updated: September 5, 2013 10:12AM
It’s always a great time in the NFL when every team is undefeated.
And so there is a relatively good feeling at Halas Hall these last days before the opener against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.
Imagine, coach Marc Trestman has never lost a game in the NFL!
Then, too, a lot of the 2013 Bears have never played in an NFL game, either.
Thus, there is some nervousness and light anxiety among the players and coaches as they try to figure out what will happen when the real games begin.
‘‘It’s good to be back and get a game that really counts,’’ second-year defensive end Shea McClellin said as Wednesday’s practice ended.
As far as starting the season with no Brian Urlacher at middle linebacker, how will that be?
‘‘I think we’ll be fine,’’ said McClellin, who is under pressure himself to be more of a house-wrecker from his outside position. “We got great guys back there. This is basically the same defense we ran last year.’’
But Pro Bowl cornerback Tim Jennings had a more reflective attitude, more curious, for sure. After all, this would be the debut of a new and, some might say, untested leader, taking over for longtime coach Lovie Smith.
‘‘Let’s see how the season starts, let’s see how he gets things going, how he reacts to pressure, when bodies start flying and everything starts to be real,’’ Jennings said. “I’m real curious to see how he manages the offense, and manage the whole team as well.’’
I don’t think a scribe, fan or analyst could have said it any better. There has been so much change with the Bears, especially with offensive guru Trestman coming in to make quarterback Jay Cutler and the offense better, that curiosity is the cat running loose in Chicago.
We don’t even know — nor does the team, for sure — what the offense will look like.
‘‘It’s very intense,’’ said Jennings of the offense he watches from his DB position. “It’s up-tempo, and they’re working so hard.’’
But he added, “I can’t really tell the difference from last year, because all offenses kind of look the same to me. But the way they get in and out of the huddle, there’s intensity.’’
And secrets yet to be revealed.
‘‘You’ll see a lot that we didn’t do [in the preseason],’’ tailback Matt Forte said.
Stuff left out by design?
‘‘Of course. You don’t want to show everything you’re going to do in the preseason.’’
Forte himself says he would like to touch the ball all the time in the new offense, to be the guy. Not just the running back. He wants the ball through the air, too.
‘‘You don’t want to limit yourself to just running the ball out of the backfield,’’ he explained. “ If you have skills to catch the ball out of the backfield, in space, that’s how you get big plays.’’
This is true, especially for a good-hands, big-target back such as Forte. Indeed, Forte is not built like many NFL bowling-ball running backs. He is tall and almost slender, weighing just 218 pounds. Standing next to him you can see that his hands are huge and his arms are long, and that in some ways he physically resembles the Bears’ super wideout, Brandon Marshall.
All good. All ready.
And to his credit, head man Trestman is telling things like they are, seemingly, and staying cool. At least outwardly. His professorial, helping demeanor hasn’t changed from the day he was introduced to Chicago fans last winter.
He knows that a first-year coach can’t get everything done that he wants done without some guesswork and a lot of hope.
So you ask him flat-out if he accomplished everything he wanted to during the preseason, and if not, what did he wish for.
“Get more reps, spend more time with the quarterbacks,’’ he said immediately. “There’s just not enough time in the day during training camp and then there’s not enough time that we’re given during the spring to be able to do that, to put a new system in.’’
But he also quickly stated that he feels very “comfortable’’ with where the Bears find themselves just now. “We’ll have a team that’s gonna know where to line up, what to do and how to do it.’’
That’s rather important. Worth watching a little bit.
Jennings will be watching just like everyone else, though he’ll be, yes, a little more involved.
“We all bought into the system, we believe in him,’’ Jennings said of the new coach.
“We’re just excited to get this thing going.’’