The Bears speak a different language these days.
It’s called offense. Or maybe offensian. Or maybe offensese.
Whatever it goes by, it should be the talk of the town after Sunday’s 24-21 victory over Cincinnati.
The scoreboard didn’t exactly screech strange words. The Bears scored only 3 touchdowns. Remember, Peyton Manning alone threw 7 TD passes in Denver’s season opener last week.
So, no, this wasn’t an offensive explosion that the Bears flashed at the Bengals and the 60,182 fans in Soldier Field.
Heck, in the first half the Bears had only 5 first downs and 97 total yards. But even that speaks to the difference from the days when the Bears’ primary means of communicating were defense and special teams.
“We wanted to get through the first quarter with the young line,” new head coach Marc Trestman explained.
In other words, the Bears sort of sacrificed early to dominate late.
“Whatever happened (in the first quarter), we would know what we had,” Trestman said. “The goal in the first half was to find out a little more about ourselves, let our young guys get settled and try to keep (quarterback Jay Cutler) clean.”
If the strategy sounds like a foreign language around here, perhaps it’s because the Bears’ past three head coaches came from the defense side of the ball.
Wide receiver Brandon Marshall said of Trestman’s offense, “There’s a science to it,”
Take the fourth-quarter play from the Cincinnati 27-yard line. A macho defensive-minded head coach might have ordered a plunge up the middle if he didn’t kick a field goal or dare we say even punt.
Instead, running back Matt Forte gained the first down by sweeping around right end for 8 yards … behind two rookie offensive linemen, of all people.
“(Gutsy) play-calling,” Cutler said with a chuckle. “That’s what Trestman is about. He’s going to roll the dice.”
On the next play, Cutler threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Marshall, and the Bears had all the points they would need to win their season opener. The reason that was the last score they needed is they regained possession of the ball with 6:38 remaining and the Bengals never had it again.
Forte around right end … a couple of short Cutler passes … 6 runs by Michael Bush … Cutler takes a knee twice … game over!
Forte’s fourth-down run speaks to having a winning offense as much as throwing the ball over the lot does. So do being able to run out the clock with a 3-point lead late in the fourth quarter, building an offensive line that doesn’t allow a sack and having a quarterback who can scramble on third down to maintain control of the ball.
It’s also being obsessive about each player doing the right thing at the right time, which is all the time.
“Everything is a science,” Marshall said of Professor Trestman’s offense. “Even if I’m not going to get the ball, I get coached up to be where I’m supposed to be.”
Educating each player in that manner is the only way the Bears’ traditionally primitive attack has a chance to become a full-service offense that can pick up that first down, can run out the clock, can distribute the ball to a variety of weapons, can do what the Bears did to win a game like they won on this day.
The Bears might not become the aerial circus some expect. Who knows? But Sunday was only the beginning, not the end, and they have a long way to go. At some point they’ll have to score more than 24 points to prevail.
The start was promising, however, if for no other reason than the Bears finally are learning to speak offense.
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