When the Chicago Bears showed Lovie Smith the door after a 10-6 record in 2012, I have to admit I was a little upset.
Smith was a player’s coach, so I can imagine that the Bears players also had mixed feelings about it. I think if the Bears’ brass would have brought in just any old journeyman coach, the windy city would have been up in arms. What they did was bring in Marc Trestman, who is an offensive guru and winner of two Grey Cups.
As a coach, Trestman is a quarterback whisperer who calls a fast paced, aggressive offense that uses matchups to create single coverage for his receivers. Most of the matchups are designed to draw a defense in so it will open the door to throw the ball deep. Six of his seven assistant coaches have worked for or with him in the past. He has drawn in the best of the best from his long and storied coaching career.
Trestman’s style of offense plays very well to Jay Cutler’s big gun of an arm. Where Cutler might struggle is in the complex verbiage and learning to take fewer chances with the ball. Trestman’s play calling should fit in with the natural chemistry between Cutler and his favorite receiver Brandon Marshall.
Alshon Jeffery is a physical receiver who has had a full year to learn how to be a better route runner. If he improves at his ability to get off the jam at the line of scrimmage, he could really surprise people this year. Matt Forte’s ability to catch the ball out of the backfield as well as go between the tackles is also a great fit for Trestman’s scheme.
Probably the largest question mark lingering on the offensive side of the ball is the offensive line. They were improved last year, but not by much. Two rookies are currently starting on the line in Jordan Mills and Kyle Long. There is a lot of talent there, but rookie linemen always struggle to find chemistry and it might be an issue early in the season.
Devin Hester will no longer play on offense. Instead, he will return to what is probably the right place for him, playing exclusively on special teams returning kicks and punts. He is in a contract year and will be motivated to put up the kind of highlight reel that was the trademark of his early career.
The Bears’ defense will have a few changes this year. Most notable are the retirement of Brian Urlacher and the loss of Nick Roach. They will be replaced by D.J. Williams and rookie Jon Bostic. So far, Bostic has looked good in preseason action with two tackles and an interception in the first game.
To be honest, while Urlacher will always be beloved, he had noticeably lost a step. Bringing in younger, more capable players is just the kind of shot in the arm the defense will need while they can still lean on anchors like Lance Briggs, Charles Tillman and sack artist Julius Peppers.
This preseason will be about bringing all of these new faces together into one cohesive team. If the new-look Bears learn to play alongside each other, they could very well improve on last year’s 10-win season.