Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Road to Bourbonnais: Practice changes
By Michael C. Wright
New Bears coach Marc Trestman will ramp up the intensity for training camp.
The Chicago Bears training camp schedule provides a glimpse of the changes afoot under the direction of new coach Marc Trestman.
Former coach Lovie Smith preferred to hold workouts during the heat of the day, while mixing in a few night practices at camp. Trestman, meanwhile, will make sure the Bears conduct the bulk of their work in the morning. All but three of the team’s sessions will be finished by noon.
ESPNChicago.com Bears blog
ESPN Chicago maps out the Bears' "Road To Bourbonnais." Must-see »
That’s just one of the many changes implemented by the new regime at Halas Hall. But will any of the moves make a difference in 2013 for the Bears, who missed the playoffs the last to seasons? That’s difficult to forecast, but it’s clear the organization believed change was in order after a 2012 campaign in which the Bears underachieved, losing three of five down the stretch.
In addition to the schedule changes, the Bears tweaked the way they trained during the offseason. The club implemented more power lifts, and instead of conducting position-specific sessions in the weight room, the Bears started bringing in the entire team. The thought by the staff was the team would build more camaraderie and chemistry by working together all offseason, as opposed to lifting in small groups.
On the field, the Bears basically eliminated the stand-around atmosphere common at many football practices, electing to go with a more rapid-fire approach with the team coming together sporadically during the session before breaking for quick special-teams periods. In a way, the breaks for special teams simulate live-game situations in which teams often move from offense to defense with special teams -- whether kickoffs, kick returns, punts or punt returns -- sandwiched in the middle, especially during quick change-of-possession situations.
On offense and defense, the pace is ratcheted during team and individual periods as well. When Jay Cutler drops back to pass, Trestman is standing behind counting down verbally to get the quarterback accustomed to getting rid of the ball more quickly like he’d do in a live-game situation.
The new approach certainly appears to be more taxing to the players physically, but should familiarize the team with performing under stress while providing the top-level cardiovascular fitness necessary to do so.
Fans attending training camp will definitely see these dramatic changes under the new regime, but the question is whether they’ll make a difference?
Based on what we’ve seen so far, there appears to be a strong chance of that happening.