Bears’ defense believes Marc Trestman’s new-look offense stands up
BY ADAM L. JAHNS Staff Reporter August 10, 2013 1:26AM
Coach Marc Trestman chats with quarterback Jay Cutler, who has the Bears’ defense expecting big things. | Jessica Koscielniak/Sun-Times
Compare and contrast
A look at the Bears’ offenses and defenses since the season of their Super Bowl appearance under coach Lovie Smith:
2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Offensive ranking 15 27 26 23 30 24 28
Defensive ranking 5 28 21 17 9 17 5
Updated: September 12, 2013 6:49AM
BOURBONNAIS — Defensive tackle Stephen Paea describes the Bears’ offense as having a different look. Defensive end Shea McClellin mentions different plays and formations. Safety Chris Conte and cornerback Tim Jennings see something in quarterback Jay Cutler.
It’s a whole new world with coach Marc Trestman in charge.
And while the preseason opener against the Panthers wasn’t exactly a rousing beginning for the offense, the defense — the guys who carried the Bears in 2012 with their turnover-inducing might — like what they’re seeing on a daily basis in camp. They are experiencing the new attack and schemes and the pressure they can place on a defense.
They feel a difference.
‘‘They’re trying new things,’’ defensive tackle Henry Melton said. ‘‘I’m excited for them.’’
Offensive struggles the last few seasons were the No. 2 reason for coach Lovie Smith’s dismissal, only behind missing the playoffs five of the last six seasons. Trestman is here to modernize the offense and bring balance to how the Bears win. They’ll still preach pressure, turnovers and touchdowns defensively but will try not to rely solely on it.
While the defense is coming off an amazing 2012, the offense floundered despite the success of receiver Brandon Marshall. The Bears haven’t had an offense rated higher than 23rd since their last Super Bowl appearance. It didn’t matter whom they added or whom Smith tabbed to lead — nothing clicked consistently in a pass-happy league.
So what has the defense seen from the offense?
‘‘I feel like we’ve kind of been West Coast before, but they’re very West Coast now,’’ Conte said. ‘‘They’re spreading the ball out. The wide receivers are going to be heavy in the offense, and we’ve got some good tight ends that help open up the passing game, too. I think there’s going to be a lot of passing out of our offense. Jay Cutler is doing a great job.’’
The secondary has felt the brunt of the new-look offense, especially with Cutler being off-limits to hit. Dealing with receivers Marshall and Alshon Jeffery and tight end Martellus Bennett at the same time in Trestman’s matchup-creating offense can be daunting.
‘‘The one thing I see out here with the new offense is that they are taking what the defense gives them,’’ Jennings said. ‘‘They’re not shying away from the check-down. They’re finding their holes in the defense, having good concepts and having good formations. [They’re] having a whole bunch of different pass routes and different plays out of the same formation. I think it’s only going to benefit them.’’
Of course, nothing will work offensively if the offensive line doesn’t improve. Trestman and coordinator/line coach Aaron Kromer are installing more zone blocking plays in the run game, and their pass protection also flows differently.
‘‘I think we’ll see better protection, and we’ve got a lot of new plays,’’ McClellin said. ‘‘It’s good for the whole team, not just the offense, but for us, too.’’
It’s fair to say last season could have turned out very differently if the offense had stayed on the field longer.
‘‘If your offense is rolling, it helps the defense,’’ McClellin said. ‘‘Not just in that game but next week as well. It sort of gets you going.’’
Did the defense ever get frustrated with the offense last season?
‘‘No, we can only control what we can control,’’ Melton said. ‘‘That’s pretty much it. We’re always excited to plant our name on the game, but if the offense is scoring points, it makes it easy on the rush.’’
Most important, they see differences in Cutler.
‘‘Jay can be one of the premier players in the league,’’ Jennings said. ‘‘Jay believes in himself and us as a team. We believe in Jay.’’