Scouting the Bears
10:48 PM CST, January 16, 2013
I spent Wednesday afternoon looking over old game plans and going through worn notebooks in my home office after the Bears hired Marc Trestman as their coach.
I started with Andy Reid's offense, then Jon Gruden's and Sean Payton's. My notes on route schemes, concepts, personnel, alignments, formations, wide receiver splits, etc. — everything I learned preparing to stop those systems as a player.
They all use variations of the West Coast offense Trestman will bring to Chicago.
Those notes didn't tell me if Trestman will command the team meeting room, manage a club at the NFL level or get veterans to buy into his system of learning.
No one knows the answer to those questions yet and anything said right now is based on, well, speculation in mid-January. There will be a time to critique Trestman's ability to run the show and demand accountability from his players.
That's why they keep score in the regular season.
However, I can see why general manager Phil Emery went with the former Montreal Alouettes coach and NFL offensive coordinator to be his guy.
Hey, the West Coast system works. And it's proven.
Here's some of what it includes: Inside breaking concepts; throw the ball between the numbers and the hashes; move the quarterback; extend the pocket; feature the running back.
It's all there when you look at the X's and O's in the type of offense Trestman will install this offseason. Sure, he will adapt and shape his game plan around the talent he has on the roster.
But for a couple of key names, and one that is still missing, this offense should score some points.
Trestman will have to coach Jay Cutler hard. There's no other way to say it. The Bears' quarterback has the skill set and athletic ability to run the sprint game, throw the deep curl, deep dig and work the middle of the field.
The quick game, the vertical route tree, the combination concepts are all there in this offense.
However, Cutler needs some work. His technique needs to be cleaned up — including his footwork, mechanics and release point.
This is an offense based on timing and structure. That is get the ball out, be accurate, put the throw on the upfield shoulder. If Trestman can coach up Cutler, the results will be there on game day.
For Matt Forte, this is a great opportunity to erase the subpar season he had in 2012 under Mike Tice and get back to being a featured player in the game plan.
Edge runs, two-back schemes and being a valuable target in the route tree are his game.
Think of the running back removed from the core of the formation as a receiver and the underneath option routes versus a linebacker or safety. Those are matchups Forte can exploit consistently.
That's what you want at running back in this offense. It's no different than when former Raider Charlie Garner caught 91 passes in Trestman's scheme in 2002. You have to account for running backs in this offense on every snap.
In the passing game, Brandon Marshall is going to work between the numbers, run the underneath crossers in the Hi-Lo combinations and snap off the top of the slant versus man coverage. He is ideal for this scheme as a receiver with length, leverage and toughness.
Run across the middle? All day with No. 15.
Expect numbers, big numbers from Marshall. Jerry Rice had 92 receptions and Tim Brown hauled in 81 for Trestman during that '02 season. You see where this is going with Marshall? He is going to see the ball.
However, the much-needed tight end is missing. That's an issue. A real issue — along with upgrades to improve the offensive line.
The Bears and Emery need to address that this offseason, creating some competition for Kellen Davis or finding another option all together.
The tight end is a key part that isn't quite up to the required standard in my eyes. It should be a goal to hit on during free agency and the draft.
Running a team and calling plays at the NFL level are two different things. I get it. You should to. But what the Bears have right now in Trestman is a start to developing a big boy offense around their quarterback.
That sells in January.
Special contributor Matt Bowen, who played at Glenbard West and Iowa, spent seven seasons in the NFL as a strong safety. You also can find his work at nationalfootballpost.com.
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