Online Extra: New coach, new offense for Bears
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — Everything moved faster for Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears offense Tuesday at minicamp practice — including the new coach.
The new, up-tempo offense came complete with Marc Trestman running all over the field, up and down the sidelines, to get his point across to players in a high-energy style the Bears aren’t used to seeing from their head coach.
“That’s just how I have been doing it,” said Trestman, who came to the Bears from the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes after the firing of Lovie Smith. “I like football and like moving around and making sure people are running to the ball and that is kind of how I have done it.”
Cutler liked the new approach.
“It was faster,” he said. “We were in and out of the huddle. I think we wanted to try to create as game-like an atmosphere as possible. A lot of plays, in and out.”
The changes included shorter drops by Cutler to throw, the ball getting out quicker and less complicated pass routes. It’s just the opposite of the passing game the Bears used the last three years, and Cutler seemed to like it. It could mean fewer sacks for a quarterback among the most harried in the NFL the last three seasons.
“We’re going to protect the quarterback and get rid of the ball as fast as we can,” Cutler said. “We want to get the ball to the play makers. That’s where we’re going to make our money, getting them the ball fast and letting them make plays for us.”
Cutler has the difficult task of learning a new offense in a contract year. He admitted he’s been watching with interest the other deals for QBs around the league, including Joe Flacco’s six-year, $120 million contract with Baltimore.
“It doesn’t make me mad,” Cutler said. “You know, there’s some big numbers being thrown out there. You can’t get ahead of yourself. We’ve got to win games to sign those contracts. I’m in my last year obviously. I’m sure everybody knows that. We’ll play it out and see how it goes.”
The Bears were without wide receiver Brandon Marshall as he recovers from a minor hip surgery, and kicker Robbie Gould missed practice after spending the final three games last season sidelined with a calf injury. Devin Hester, the NFL’s all-time touchdown return leader who has doubled as a receiver for six seasons, stood on the sidelines watching the offense and participated only when special teams required him to return punts or kicks.
He won’t be a receiver in this offense
“Devin is going to focus on being our returner,” Trestman said. “He’s got to be the returner for him to be here (with the team) and once that is locked into place, which we expect that it will, then we’ll see where it goes from there. But we made a collective decision organizationally. I talked with the guys who have been here. (GM) Phil (Emery) and I had a long conversation about it.”
Trestman called it letting Hester “get back to doing what he does best first.”
Among the other changes players are getting used to: Brian Urlacher will not be with the team after 13 years.
“I’m very appreciative of the effort and attitude they’ve had since we’ve been back,” Emery said. “Guys like Lance Briggs have stepped up … said some very good things. Tim Jennings. That’s all been very positive with the players. At the end of the day, all NFL players know that there’s a ceiling to how long they can play, and they grab every day, and I know that these guys want to win championships and that’s what’s important to them.”
Also Tuesday, the Bears have signed guard-tackle Eben Britton to a one-year contract. The 6-foot-6, 308-pound Britton started 30 of 38 games in four seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Last season, Britton started five of 11 games with Jacksonville, all at left guard.
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