LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice kept mentioning the “new personality” of the offense Friday during a seven-minute meeting with reporters following the first practice of rookie minicamp at Halas Hall.
The problem, however was Tice didn’t elaborate. At first, anyway.
So what exactly is this new personality?
“Just that we want to play fast,” Tice explained later. “We don’t want to be out on the field and have the kids think[ing] too much. We don’t want to make it hard for the kids. We want to make sure the kids know exactly what we’re gonna do, when we’re gonna call it and why we’re gonna call it. That’s our job as coaches. We have some great athletes on offense. We have to put them in a position to show us and show the fans, and show the people that love the Bears, their athleticism and explosiveness. We want to be explosive.”
That’s perfectly fine, but obviously steps need to be taken to accomplish the task. So thus far in an offseason somewhat lacking on a free flow of information from Halas Hall, the Bears have actually installed their 2012 offense not once, but twice.
So basically, the team’s progress in terms of offensive installation stands at the halfway point with training camp approaching in July.
“When we go to OTA days, we’ll go through [installing the offense] for a third time,” Tice said. “When we go to training camp, we’ll go through for a fourth time. So we’re excited about that process because we’re gonna have a large playbook, and we’re gonna be able to pull from that and draw from that playbook as the season progresses, and as we find what the talents of our players are.”
The Bears walked away from the first day of rookie camp encouraged by the glimpse they caught of rookie second-round receiver Alshon Jeffery, who eventually left the field close to the end of practice after catching leg cramps. Prior to Jeffery leaving, Tice watched the rookie “picking peanuts off some guys’ heads,” during drills.
Jeffery will play the “Z” receiver spot in the slot. New acquisition Brandon Marshall and veteran Devin Hester will play on the outside, with the latter playing a much more significant role in 2012 than in years past on offense because of the club’s plans to creatively deploy him in a variety of places.
One NFL source said the Bears’ 2012 passing game will essentially be the 2008 passing offense of the Denver Broncos, a system well known by new quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates, both Marshall and quarterback Jay Cutler, who the source said, “really likes Hester in the new system.”
The only real concern -- outside of the health of receiver Johnny Knox -- seems to be the status of franchised-tagged running back Matt Forte, who at this point appears to be poised for a training camp holdout.
“You’re talking about taking a bunch of ideas from a bunch of guys (a group that also includes tight ends coach Mike DeBord, Darryl Drake and Tim Spencer) that have a chance to have some input,” Tice said about the formation of the new system. “[And we’re] filtering through that information and putting it together on paper, and deciding what the Bears are gonna look like based on the talent pool and skills of the players we have. The staff’s done a great job from top to bottom.”
Bears coach Lovie Smith has taken notice, and pointed out how the acquisition of offensive firepower should aid in the transitioning of the new offense.
“He’s been doing a super job, rallying and just organizing our offensive staff and getting them all on the same page,” Smith said of Tice. “I think he’ll like the look of our offense this year. It helps a lot when you get more weapons, which we’ve done. I’m really pleased with what the staff has done.”