Aug 9, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; Chicago Bears center/guard Roberto Garza (63) leads his team out before the game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. CArolina wins 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports
If you think the weak link of the offense last season was the line, there’s been a major overhaul there too. Of the five starters, only Roberto Garza remains. As a matter of fact, of the nine offensive linemen on the current 53-man roster, only James Brown and Jonathan Scott remain from 2012 besides the starter Garza. J’Marcus Webb is the Vikings’ problem, Chris Spencer is on the Titans and Lance Louis is out of football coming off an ACL injury.
The tight ends is another position that’s undergone a major renovation. Martellus Bennett was brought in to replace Kellen Davis as the starter. Steve Maneri was brought in to replace Matt Spaeth as the blocking tight end and they just traded a conditional 7th round pick for veteran Dante Rosario, while waiving Kyle Adams. Fendi Onobun is waiting in the wings on the practice squad.
The wide receiver group is probably the most stable, with Marshall, 2nd year man Alshon Jeffery and Earl Bennett expected to hold down the top 3 spots. Look out for rookie Marquess Wilson to make an impact while second year man Joe Anderson showed us something in the preseason. Devin Hester has been bumped to the specialists meeting room and for all practical purposes, so is Eric Weems.
The quarterbacks and running backs remain pretty stable and we know that Cutler and Forte will be engine that drives this team. I am definitely concerned about the depth behind Cutler.
Last season, the Bears brought in Jason Campbell, but he didn’t work out too well when called upon. Josh McCown has shown flashes and most importantly, he’s a “friend of Jay” so he gets the best seat in the house backing up Cutler. I’m not convinced a guy who was coaching high school football when the Bears called is the answer if Cutler goes down.
Forte is expected to have a career year in Marc Trestman’s west coast offense while Michael Bush should continue his vulturing ways. Undrafted rookie Michael Ford has a little shake and bake and showed the elusiveness that you like in a third running back. Tony Fiammetta comes in as a true fullback, which should be interesting in Trestman’s scheme.
What’s missing from this overhaul? The results! Marc Trestman and Aaron Kromer will implement new systems and improve on a bottom-5 offense. I think the offense will come together, but it’s going to take a little bit of patience. The rookie offensive linemen will be challenged – they don’t get to beat up on the Chargers and Raiders every week.
Jun 11, 2013; Lake Forest, IL, USA; Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman talks with quarterback Jay Cutler (6) during minicamp at Halas Hall. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Most importantly, Cutler will have to buy into the system and he and Trestman will have to learn to trust one another. How that relationship develops through the season will define the 2013 Chicago Bears. If it doesn’t work, all of these changes will be the precursor to a bigger change in 2014 and beyond.
I expect the offense to start firing on all cylinders by about the Bye week. The early going could be a little rough as everyone gets their bearings. There is no reason why the offense shouldn’t be a Top 12 offense if they stay relatively healthy, especially Cutler, Forte and Marshall.
What do you think of the 2013 offensive overhaul? Can this thing work or do we expect more changes down the road? What are your expectations for the offense?