Musick: Glimpses say little about Bears' offense
BOURBONNAIS – The voice was unmistakable as it originated behind the line of scrimmage and traveled into the ears of Bears players lining up on offense.
“We’ve got work to do!” the voice barked.
“We’ve got work to do!” the voice repeated.
Who says Marc Trestman requires multisyllabic words to motivate his team?
Ditch the thesaurus. Forget the corporate seminar lingo. After 18 days, 13 practices and one preseason game, the status of the Bears’ offense can be whittled to one simple message: The Bears have work to do.
On Tuesday, the Bears will wake up in their dormitory beds and march toward the fields at Olivet Nazarene University for the 14th and final practice of training camp. It will mark fans’ final look from the sidelines before the Bears head north with their new-look offense.
What have we seen? What have we gained? What have we learned?
Glimpses. Nothing more.
Two-and-a-half hour practices that represent a one-Mississippi in the Bears’ master plan.
“I know we can always accentuate what we’ve seen out here, but what we’ve seen out here is not the games,” Trestman said. “It’s not the real games. We’ve got to keep that perspective, and we’ve got to look at the big picture right now.”
The big picture will be a collage featuring at least 16 snapshots. The first will come Sept. 8 when the Bears host the Cincinnati Bengals in the regular season opener.
In the days leading up to that game, the Bears will unveil a game plan. It will be intricate, exciting, and tailored to showcase the Bears’ strengths while exploiting the Bengals’ weaknesses.
We’ll see almost none of that game plan, of course. Not until after the opening kickoff.
Backup quarterback Josh McCown offered a few of the most common glimpses from camp.
“I think you do see glimpses of the ball getting out of our hand, getting the ball out quickly, finding completions, things like that,” said McCown, an 11-year NFL veteran. “But there’s still a lot of things to correct and work on after that first [preseason] game.”
It seems that way during practice, too.
On one play, Alshon Jeffery readjusts his route to make a leaping catch along the sideline. On another, Jay Cutler is swarmed by defenders and floats a pass out of bounds.
But this is training camp. Even throwaway passes carry a purpose.
“Sometimes, there’s guys not open, so you’ve got to throw it away,” McCown said. “It’s that fight to know that’s still a good play, too. You don’t want to have a lot of them, but at the same time, if you’re not getting sacked and you’re not throwing picks, you’re helping your team.”
Perhaps the Bears’ second preseason game Thursday will represent something more than a throwaway pass in the grand scheme of the season. Probably not.
When it comes to NFL action in August, the flavor is decidedly vanilla.
“In the first game, we’re not running all of our stuff,” quarterback Matt Blanchard said. “We’re running a lot of base stuff, so you’ve got to be productive with the plays you’re given.
“But this offense is very capable. Jay and Josh have done a great job of managing it and taking shots when we have them. So, definitely glimpses, and there’s plenty more to come.”
Plenty more to come? Now, we’re talking.
But don’t fret, Olivet. Minor glimpse by minor glimpse, you managed to play a major role in the development of the Bears’ new offense.
“Things change in season when you start to game plan for different teams,” McCown said. “But at the same time, you don’t want to reinvent yourself when you get to the season. So, this is the nuts and bolts of who we are.
“Everybody that’s watched us here at camp and in the preseason, you kind of get a glimpse of who we are. But that’s every offense in the NFL. You’re generally just going to get base stuff in the preseason, and then you really start to game plan for your opponent during the season. That’s when it will change.
“But you see enough right now to know where we’re headed.”
Oh. Uh, um, er – yes, absolutely.
The Bears are headed to Halas Hall.
• Northwest Herald sports columnist Tom Musick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @tcmusick.