Adaptable Offense Key to Success for Chicago Bears

By Jake Wittenberg
Brandon Marshall
Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout the NFL a dominant offensive strategy has taken root over the last few seasons, and the Chicago Bears have been left behind. To sum it up in a few words, NFL teams love the audible offense. And why wouldn’t they? Offenses that allow quarterbacks to audible provide teams with the ability to read, react to, and exploit defensive alignments and matchups. As the Bears move towards a speed and timing based offense, audibles will be key to offensive success in the Marc Trestman and Aaron Kromer era.

When Mike Martz was offensive coordinator the Bears ran a timing-based offense, but it lacked flexibility and speed. Jay Cutler was left with one or two options on every play, relying on timing and precise routes to create space between defenders and receivers. Route distance and timing was more important to Martz than taking advantage of mismatches or blown coverages. Crossing routes were nonexistent, and long fade passes were just as rare. The Bears tried to hook, curl, hitch, and slant their way down the field simply to complement the run game, which, if you’ll recall, wasn’t exactly explosive in itself. As Cutler attempted to perfectly time throws, long routes and a lack of audible options and check down routes led to sacks. The Bears couldn’t get off the ground.

Then Mike Tice took control, bringing with him promises of an improved and more reactive offense. What Bears fans wanted to see was an offense that utilized significant upgrades at receiver to outperform opposing defenses. What they got was more of the Martz scheme, albeit a watered down version, that simply didn’t give Cutler enough leeway to beat defenses or exploit mismatches. And, like Martz’s offenses, the Bears were left with a sputtering, inconsistent offense that couldn’t perform in important situations. Tice tried to update Martz’s scheme, but the changes he made simply didn’t allow Cutler enough offensive control.

Enter Aaron Kromer. Kromer was an offensive line coach for the New Orleans Saints as well as an offensive coordinator and their interim head coach. Kromer sent five players to nine Pro Bowls as offensive line coach in New Orleans. His schemes protected one of the league’s most prolific passers, Drew Brees, in an offense that threw an extraordinary amount of times throughout his tenure with the Saints. Beyond his success with offensive linemen, Kromer helped develop an offense that was largely controlled by Brees on the field with limited coaching influence. With the Bears, Kromer should bring a more adaptive, audible based offense that allows Cutler flexibility and the ability to make plays by exploiting matchups, two qualities that Bears offenses have lacked over the past five years.

Judging by the success of the Saints, Bears fans should sleep easy.

Jake Wittenberg is a writer for You can follow him on Twitter here.

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