One thing that Bears fans are not used to saying in pre-season is “the offense might be one of the most explosive in the NFL”. But this year, that could be the case.
This article from the Bears website, “Bears offense drawing rave reviews from defense”, gives the details.
The main difference is speed.
First, TE Greg Olsen from Miami (Fl), their number one draft pick, has been very impressive. Brian Urlacher, from the article:
“He catches the ball. He gets open. He blocks. He’s smart,” Urlacher said of his rookie teammate. “It doesn’t seem like he ever screws up and he catches everything.
“When we drafted him I [thought], ‘Why would we take a tight end in the first round? You can get them anywhere.’ Well, he’s great. He’s the best rookie I’ve seen at any position since I’ve been here.”
And since the Bears already have a quality tight end in Desmond Clark, the two tight end is now feasible, which gives the running game another dimension, and could create matchup problems for the defense that could open up the passing game.
Second, Devin Hester has now been added to the offense as a receiver. Imagine being a defensive player or coach who watched the six touchdowns Hester scored on special teams play last year, and knowing that now now you have to worry about him, too. Here’s Bears safety Mike Brown:
Hester has electrified the crowd in training camp, displaying great hands, blazing speed and a knack for making big plays.
“He’s a special player; everyone knows that,” Brown said. “The goal is to score points and whenever he has the ball in his hands, there’s a good opportunity he’s going to score. You want to have the ball in his hands as many times as possible because he’s the type of guy who can score whenever he gets it.
“He reminds me a lot of [Carolina Panthers receiver] Steve Smith. He’s very explosive and fast and he has an uncanny ability to make people miss in tight quarters. You probably couldn’t tackle him in a phone booth. He’s that slippery and slick.”
And since the Bears defense faces this more explosive offense every day in practice, it should make them better too.
Of course, the Bears still need Rex Grossman to make better decisions at game speed, and the running game is changed from last year, with Cedric Benson now the number one, in place of Thomas Jones, who was traded for a second round draft pick. Both are big factors in the team’s potential success, and so time will tell on that.
If forced to make predictions regarding the offense, I’d volunteer that Grossman will show a net slight improvement, mainly from better decisions, but his slow feet may still cause problems. Benson will be more than adequate, as long as he doesn’t get hurt, which he always does; expect backup Adrian Peterson to see substantial carries, with possible contributions from rookie Garrett Wolfe from Northern Illinois. Hester will be a big factor in the passing game, as will Olsen, and both will open up the running game just by their presence on the field. Expect a more consistent ability to score points, across the board, although their schedule is tougher this year.
First preseason game is Saturday at the Texans.