Bears players picking up new offense quickly
Bears players picking up new offense quickly
By: Larry Mayer | Last Updated: 6/12/2012 9:13 PM
The Bears are in the process of learning a new offense under first-year coordinator Mike Tice, but that certainly didn’t appear to be the case Tuesday at Halas Hall.
In the first of three minicamp practices this week, Jay Cutler threw pinpoint passes to receivers who ran crisp routes. During a 7-on-7 drill, Cutler connected with Brandon Marshall deep down the left sideline before hitting Devin Hester on a similar play along the right sideline moments later.
Jay Cutler is pleased with how well the Bears are learning a new offense.
“It’s kind of surprising to see where we’re at and how well the guys have picked it up,” Cutler said. “It’s a testament to how hard they’ve worked, not only the coaches but the players alike.”
Cutler and Marshall developed into Pro Bowlers while being tutored in Denver by assistant coach Jeremy Bates, and the three have picked up where they left off since being reunited with the Bears.
“I think everyone’s feeling really comfortable, myself included with ‘J-Bates’ and ‘B-Marsh,’” Cutler said. “We’ve got a good group and everyone’s kind of feeding off that and staying relaxed and playing fast, and that’s what we want to do with the offense.”
Coach Lovie Smith also is pleased with how the unit has performed.
“I thought we would pick it up fairly well,” Smith said. “We have a lot of students of the game. We have a good coaching staff, so it is not like that is a surprise to me. I like where we are. We’ve been able to go through and put in, for the most part, every situation that we will be in this coming season.”
After installing the entire offense four different times, in minicamp Tice and his assistants are focusing on specific aspects of the playbook that ultimately will be a big part of the unit’s identity this season.
“We’ve picked some things as a staff that we felt we’ve been doing well, that the players feel comfortable doing over the past couple months that give us a chance to play fast and be explosive,” Tice said.
Cutler explained that the new offense is a hybrid of the systems that Tice coached at his previous NFL stops, that Bates was a part of in Denver and Seattle and that the Bears operated last season.
“Mike’s doing a heck of a job,” Cutler said. “I think he’s got probably the hardest job of a lot of guys in this building of being able to mesh these offensive players with different schemes.
“It’s always hard as a first-time coordinator of installing your offense and getting it up and running for Game 1. He’s got a tough gig, but he’s doing a great job. He’s listening to a lot of different guys and taking everyone’s opinion into consideration and then trying to find the best solution.”
Cutler certainly has enjoyed providing his input. The quarterback said the scheme incorporates elements that he’s familiar with and does well.
“The communication between the coaches and the players has been phenomenal,” Tice said. “I’ve always found that sometimes the players have great thoughts, especially when they’re very focused like our players are right now.
“They’re trying to win. They’re trying to play fast and explosive and play smart, so we’re going to make sure that we put our players in position to do well and not ask them to do things that we don’t believe as coaches or their body language is telling us they don’t like or that they can’t do well.”
In Tuesday’s practice, Cutler also connected with Earl Bennett on a post pattern and completed short-to-intermediate passes to Marshall, Hester, Bennett, Kellen Davis and Eric Weems. Rookie second-round pick Alshon Jeffery sat out the workout with a minor lower leg injury.
“It’s a good group,” Cutler said. “It’s the best receiver group I’ve worked with. There’s a ton of talent in that room. A lot of guys on this team like coming to work, like football. That makes my job a lot easier.”
So does playing with Marshall. The three-time Pro Bowler, who is one of just three NFL receivers to compile at least 1,000 yards each of the last five seasons, has provided a major boost.
“Brandon’s raising all of those receivers’ level of play,” Cutler said. “He’s pushing everybody. I push him and he pushes me. We always have a healthy dialogue of what’s happening on the field, what to change. We’ve got such a good feel for each other. We’ve just got to make sure that carries over into the season.”
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All great stuff to hear. Adding a guy like Marshall benefits in two ways. One he's Jay's favorite target and two the others learn to play up to that level by watching him and by association. I know how that works very well in symbiotic way where the whole is better than the sum of the parts.
The one thing that I'm glad to hear is that they're picking it up quickly which is allowing them to play faster. Our team speed gives us a huge advantage but under Martz I think the complexity of his offense limited than somewhat. I think it was Garza who said as much regarding the blocking schemes. Martz had about 80 and at times there was enough confusion about responsibilities that guys weren't able to play full tilt.
I think this year we're gonna show up with an offense that finally rivals our defense and in the nick of time too.
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That type of O needs to be implemented over multiple years; OR you have to have uber talented players that are capable of picking it all up. Last year we didn't have the time or the talent to run that O.
Look at what NE does; I read an article that the reason Ocho didn't fit in wasn't lack of talent or lack of football IQ, but each WR have multiple routes based on how the D is set up. And Ocho wasn't able to pick it up. imo it's b/c he knew he could beat whatever D was set up on his own but that isn't how NE runs it's O; no freelancing. But you cannot do something like that in 1 year. It takes time to learn it, and it takes trust from the Qb.