BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- When the Bears hired Jeremy Bates to be Jay Cutlers quarterback coach, then traded a couple of draft choices to acquire Brandon Marshall, and then spent a second-round draft choice on Alshon Jeffery, the expectation was that the three-party reunion was the signal that the Chicago offense would become the Air in the annual Chicago Air and Water Show.
Dont count on it.
An NFL source told CSNChicago.com that the strongest indications were that the Bears would in fact run the football and run it significantly more than everyone has been inclined to believe based on the passing-game changes of this offseason.
And GM Phil Emery said Tuesday as training camp opened that, after the obvious first tenet of offense that you need to score points, that the best Bears way to do that is not to put on an air show.
I understand that people say theres a shift in the NFL toward passing, Emery said. Yeah, there is, but I think theres a shift where teams are trying to be 50-50 to keep defenders off balance, to run a lot of the same plays out of different formations. Keep you off balance formation-wise, keep you off balance run-pass.
Emery is up on his Chicago Bear history.
The three lowest yardage outputs and all three defeats -- in Cutlers 10 games in 2011 came in the games with the highest numbers of pass plays (New Orleans, Green Bay I, Detroit I).
Those were also the only three Cutler games in which the Bears scored fewer than 24 points, with 13 against both New Orleans and Detroit and 17 vs. the Packers).
It was after that Green Bay game that Mike Tice was, for the second year in a row, given a greater say in game planning. It was at that point also that coach Lovie Smith mandated, not more passing, but more balance.
I think balance is what Mikes mind is and thats what well see, Emery said.
Smith sounded the identical note even as he assessed that this was perhaps the best assemblage of skill-position players in his nine seasons as Bears coach.
Look at our additions just look at the receiver that we brought in we brought in a 1 receiver, so just starting with him, you add a lot, Smith said. We brought in another running back who was a starting running back in the NFL. I think as you look across our board at our skill positions, we have improved quite a bit, and that should put points on the board, which were trying to do.
We talk a lot about the skill in receivers, but just think, were in a position to have the best balance offensively that weve had in a long time.