Bears' flexible offense gets to work

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- The first play of team drills Thursday didn’t achieve success, but it provided a glimpse of unpredictability Chicago Bears observers might notice once the 2012 NFL season kicks off.

Quarterback Jay Cutler faked left, rolled out right, and threw incomplete to Brandon Marshall on the sideline.

Again, not successful, but quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates -- one of the many collaborators in the club’s new offense -- explained the potpourri of looks the Bears hope to achieve in the new offense led by Mike Tice.

“We’re going to try to do a bunch of football plays. To tell the truth, the most exciting play today was seeing Matt (Forte) take one up the middle,” Bates said. “Having a good running back opens up the ‘keeper’ game. If they commit to Matt and the defensive end is squeezing, then we’ve got to get outside him. Hopefully we’re going to do a number of plays our guys are good at.”

The club remains deep in the process of trying to find out.

Bates explained after Chicago’s first practice of training camp at Olivet Nazarene University that every coach on the offensive staff “has a specialty.”

That means the offense, according to Bates is “going to be a combination of all of our coaches, and our ideas.” So while Tice, the new offensive coordinator, is the overseer, he’s “flexible as long as you really explain it and it makes sense.”

“I’ve been with coach (Jon) Gruden, Mike Heimerdinger, some great offensive coaches, and I’m going to use some of their football plays,” Bates said. “An old coach once told me, ‘We really don’t create anything. It’s a copycat league.’ If you have a chance to be with some of those guys, you learn the concepts, the protections. That’s where I went to school: under those guys. That’s what I’m going to bring to the table. Coach Tice is going to bring his knowledge, and so is the rest of the staff.”

But how that manifests itself on the field for Chicago’s offense remains arguably the most pertinent question looming as the team prepares for the 2012 season. Bates is well versed in West Coast offensive philosophies, while Tice’s roots are in the Don Coryell offense, a system that pushes the ball down the field deep, which he absorbed as a player in the NFL for former Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs.

So it’ll be interesting to see how seemingly conflicting offensive philosophies meld. The Bears struggled offensively during the first workout of training camp, but the showing probably wasn’t indicative of how the unit will perform during the season.

“We’re trying to find out what are the things that we do well,” Tice said. “You think, you hope there are some things you want them to do well. But when you watch the tape and continue to call the same plays, it’s going to be real simple. You add up the math. Did that play work or did the play not work? That’s what we’re trying to figure out right now.”