When I was a sophomore in high school, my JV football coach opened practice with telling us his new philosophy was going to be K.I.S.S. — Keep It Simple Stupid. The thought was that the less we had to think on the field, the better we would play. It might have worked if he didn’t then try to install Gary Crowton’s spread offense after the team ran the Wishbone the year before. The Bears aren’t going from the Wishbone to the spread, but they seem intent on simplifying what they’ve done in recent years and the result should be fewer big mistakes.
Mistakes were ultimately what did the Bears offense in last year.
They 2014 debacle featured the fifth most turnovers in the league. They had the second most false starts — a number of which by receivers. They also committed countless other mental errors that don’t show up in the box score. A large part of the problem was that Marc Trestman wanted his brand of football to be a science and he lacked scientists. He never adjusted.
This isn’t to say the Bears don’t have smart players. They do. But players are at their best when they’re able to play without thinking. It’s easy to blame Jay Cutler for the Bears turnover problems, but a handful of the interceptions he threw came because he and the receiver weren’t on the same page. The Bears had option routes and option routes off of those option routes that couldn’t be determined until after the ball was snapped. It was all too much.
We’ve heard Marty Bennett talk about how he felt like the team was trying to cram as much information as possible in his head the past couple of seasons. Bennett was one of the players who most struggled with these various option routes. Bennett is a good player not because he’s smart, but because he has an incredible combination of size, speed and body control. The same is true for Alshon Jeffery and will be true for Kevin White. They can’t utilize those attributes to the fullest if they’re thinking about every move they make.
The Bears need to ask them to be big, strong and fast playmakers, not rocket scientists. If they do that and the players hold up their end of the bargain, it will give defenses fits.
The Bears obviously have to have some strategy. But that strategy – as devised by offensive coordinator Adam Gase – will cater to the talents of the individuals on the roster instead of forcing those talents into a pre-designed system.
Mistakes will happen. Every team makes them no matter what kind of offense they run. But if the Bears can just limit the crippling errors of 2014 by allowing the talent to think less, they’re going to be hard to stop.