I’ve never been one to post too this site simply for the sake of posting. And I haven’t posted much lately largely because there isn’t much to post about. The offseason is just that and if you need any evidence for the paucity of interesting information about the Bears, look no further than the crap that passes for “news” at the Chicago Sun-Times lately.
Nevertheless, there are issues that fans will want to pay attention to as training camp starts next month. One that hasn’t gotten much attention is the growing disconnect that I see between what the coaching staff plans to do and what the talent on the team will allow them to do. In fairness, most of this is based upon media speculation. Coaches don’t usually just volunteer to lay out all of their plans (on the record), even those that exist before the pads come on.
Issue number one for me is the Bears apparent plan to run the ball more this season. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not a bad plan, at least ordinarily. And its generally recognized that you do need to at least attempt to run the ball a certain percentage of the time to keep defenses honest. But when the coaches talk about it, you have to wonder if they’ve actually watched the film from last season.
The Bears ranked 21st in yards and 23rd in total points last year but they were 27th in rushing, near the bottom of the league. Matt Forte set a league record for receiving yards by a running back. Most fans and some members of the media attribute that to former head coach Marc Trestman‘s reluctance to run the ball. But few people bother to think about why he was reluctant to run the ball.
Facing frequent two deep safety coverage for most of the year in 2014 with seven or less in the box, the Bears were in a prime position to gain yardage on the ground. Yet time after time, they were stopped in their tracks. The reason is simple: they couldn’t block it.
Even before the last season bloggers such as myself were calling for changes on an offensive line that was exceptionally healthy in 2013. Those changes weren’t made and the Bears paid the price.
Once again, few changes have been made to the offensive line in the offseason for the Bears this year despite the fact that neither left tackle Jermon Bushrod nor right tackle (for now) Jordan Mills have been healthy. Indeed, the line has arguably taken a step back with Will Montgomery stepping in for Roberto Garza at center. Even if rookie center Hroniss Grasu takes the job, he’s undersized and the odds are good that run blocking isn’t going to be his strength.
So it’s a great plan but the question remains, “How are the Bears going to run the ball more?” The only real hope is that a change in blocking scheme will allow an offense filled with personnel that play with more finesse than power to maximize their potential. But its a slim hope, one that most fans and, more to the point, most of the coaches shouldn’t bank on. How healthy the offensive line is and how they perform heading into the season will be one pretty good indication of how the offense as a whole will go. But even then, a plan based to heavily upon success in the running game seems to be one fraught with peril.