Their two quarterbacks threw for 4,450 yards and 32 touchdowns. Their star tailback accumulated just a squidge below 2,000 yards from scrimmage. Their wide receivers established themselves as the best starting duo in the sport. Their offensive line was fourth best in sacks allowed and provided support for the league’s second-leading rusher. (And they did this with a pair of rookies on the right side.) The finished the second 9th in total yards per game and 2nd in points scored – only trailing the insane juggernaut that is Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos.
While most fans are unable to see the sport of football with any appropriate context, let me provide some. Marc Trestman is a first year head coach with a first year staff. One year was all it took for Trest to establish one of the league’s most prolific offenses right here in the city of Chicago.
These things only get better. Playbooks expand. Offensive lines grow more comfortable. Quarterbacks operate with a developing fluency. Fans around these parts may not understand this concept because Chicago has not – since George Halas roamed the sideline – operated with any discernible offensive system. (I could make a serious argument the T Formation of song was the last time the Bears operated uniquely on offense.) I would expect Matt Slauson and Jay Cutler to be re-signed prior to the start of the league year. I would expect Josh McCown signed, sealed and delivered rather quickly after the league year begins. The 2014 Bears offense should be expected to improve upon 2013’s landmark production.
The biggest reason for optimism? This offense hasn’t even BEGUN to reach their potential! Point-for-point:
- Jay Cutler thrived at times but still failed to limit the turnovers that have kept him from joining the upper echelon of QBs. What Josh McCown proved is that often the check down is not only the safe play but the smart one. Cutler needs to learn this.
- Mills & Long had solid seasons on the right side but they were far from dominant. What happens when these two men have a year under their belts?
- Alshon Jeffery’s flair for the spectacular was the most distinguished feature of the 2013 offense. But the star, second-year player had too many drops in pivotal situations.
- The offense, as a group, did not truly put together four great quarters outside of the Monday Night Football affair with Dallas. And even that game didn’t make the turn until Jeffery’s miraculous end zone grab. The mark of the great offenses in the NFL is their cutthroat approach at home (see: New Orleans, Green Bay, Denver, New England…etc.). Once they have an opportunity to bury the opponent in their own building, they do it.
- Trestman went through a year of learning experiences on the job. Will he be so reluctant to pass up points in his second year as head coach? Will he be so reluctant to rely on his quarterback/receivers in short yardage scenarios?
The success on offense is reason for optimism. But so are the failures. The Bears offense can get a lot better. Look for it to happen as soon as September.