What’s the Real Difference?

Rick Telander at the Chicago Sun-Times quotes cornerback Tim Jennings in a moment of candor when asked about the “new” Bears offense:

‘‘‘Let’s see how the season starts, let’s see how [head coach Marc  Trestman] gets things going, how he reacts to pressure, when bodies start flying and everything starts to be real.  I’m real curious to see how he manages the offense, and manage the whole team as well.’’’

‘’‘It’s very intense,’ said Jennings of the offense he watches from his DB position. ‘It’s up-tempo, and they’re working so hard.’’’

“But he added, ‘I can’t really tell the difference from last year, because all offenses kind of look the same to me. But the way they get in and out of the huddle, there’s intensity.’’’

I can’t tell the difference, either.  Not exactly.

Oh I know there’s a difference between good offenses and bad offenses.  Anyone who watches the San Francisco 49ers can tell.  Any one who watched the old 49ers with their classic West Coast offense under Bill Walsh can really tell.  But the question is “What’s the difference?”  Like Jennings, I think they all more or less look the same with some variations.

Jennings seems to think it might be about “intensity”.  But perhaps “concentration” would be a better term.  The guess here is that if we’re going to see an improved Bears offense this year, it’s going to come down to execution.  That’s both on the level of the individual player and how they work together as a team as a whole.

Yes, we talk about the X’s and O’s.  General manager Phil Emery talks about how former offensive coordinator Mike Tice didn’t use the middle of the field.  And that did hurt.  But, really, the single biggest reason the offense failed last year was because quarterback Jay Cutler lost faith in his other receivers and fed the ball to Brandon Marshall in the air when he wasn’t handing it to Matt Forte on the ground.  All 11 guys weren’t working in harmony with the coaching staff in a coordinated offense.  If the Bengals come out in man coverage and the receivers can’t get open again, it’s not going to matter what Trestman does.

My guess is that it’s about keeping 11 guys all on the same page doing their jobs and limiting mistakes.  One weak link and the whole process falls apart.  That seems kind of obvious but it really isn’t.  And even assuming you accept that, how you accomplish that goal is a whole different issue.  Increasing the intensity with which you concentrate on what’s going on and what you are doing is probably a good place to start.  But that’s certainly not where it ends.  As Jennings reaction to the question demonstrates, the difference is a fine line that’s dependent on a lot of factors.  No one can really tell if you’ve crossed it or not until you are actually under fire.  That’s where the Bears offense will be on Sunday.

It’s been a long time since we’ve seen a good offense in Chicago that wasn’t an opponent.  It hasn’t happened in my lifetime.  And yet it’s fascinating that a veteran Pro Bowl cornerback who has been around the league and pretty much seen it all is as clueless as I am as to exactly where the Bears offense is at this point.  Like Jennings, we’re all just  waiting to see.

3 thoughts on “What’s the Real Difference?

  • September 5, 2013 at 9:15 AM

    To say the single biggest reason the Bears offense was no good last year is Jay Cutler’s fixation with Brandon Marshall is absolute lunacy. Jay Cutler is among the reasons, but nowhere near the top.

    1. A horrible scheme on offense that was rarely even called according to plan (Tice admits to getting rattled mid-game and changing the gameplan)

    2. A talent-less offensive line.

    3. Injured and ineffective receiving corps

    4. Jay Cutler. Maybe.

  • September 5, 2013 at 9:31 AM

    Your point is well taken. However I would contend that if Cutler had quickly gotten the ball out to a receiver on time just coming out of his break, most of 1, 2 and 3 would have been less relevant.

    Right or wrong and for whatever reason, Cutler dropped back, scrambled around and waited for Brandon Marshall to work his way open far too often last year. Whether it was his fault or not, IMO that was not how the offense was supposed to run and that was the biggest problem.

  • September 5, 2013 at 5:58 PM

    I think the ‘intensity’ comment actually speaks volumes. This is what we have to do (or those in the media are supposed to do ‘for us’) and that is to read ‘between the lines’… or read the players well.

    I think a lot of his ‘candour’ was fuelled by ‘team talk’ but also a desire to not diminish either what came before (Lovie) or what is coming on now (Trestman).

    Trestman wants accountability. Emery uses the same language. An NFL player should be accountable for his level of intensity. I can understand Jay’s frustrations if the people at the top of the food chain were lost on the menu and when the plates were being thrown their way, all the scraps were cold and inedible. That’s a whole lot of metaphor for I think Jay and his ‘expression’ told the tale of a man frustrated with ineptitude.

    That’s why a) I don’t blame Cutler and b) why I like watching when he’s laughing on the sidelines. I’ll want to see more of that. Like when he or Marc call a time out and they walk towards each other both laughing at something, then two seconds later, back to the intensity of the game…

    I’m from Montreal. i know Marc Trestman, at minimum, is an intense and intelligent individual. I too don’t ‘know’ how he’ll respond to situations, but I’d love to suggest to Tim that he should relax, cause I ‘think’ he’ll respond really well to the game ‘breaks’ and intensity and accountability will not be questioned of the coach for a long time.


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