Blackhawks

Bears unveil "no huddle" offense

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Bears unveil "no huddle" offense

An offense is more dangerous when it is more versatile. The more personnel groupings, offensive sets, or more plays you make a defense prepare for, the harder their job becomes. The Bears unveiled a new offensive wrinkle Friday afternoon at training camp that had been sorely missing for quite some time. This style of play took the Buffalo Bills to four consecutive Super Bowls. The new wrinkle by the Bears is known as the "no huddle" offense.

Im not suggesting the Bears are going to be the Buffalo Bills, utilizing this style of play during all 16 games this season. Instead, it is important to know this is a tremendous weapon which can create difficulties for a defense when necessary.

Why is it great?

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have been jumping in and out of no huddle offense for years because it changes the tempo of a game and it creates better matchups. Here are a few examples of when Jay Cutler could utilize the "no huddle" offense during the season:

1. The Bears have 3 wide receivers on the field and just finished a pass play on the first down for seven yards. Cutler notices one of the cornerbacks got rolled up and is limping badly. Cutler immediately screams, attack, notifying all players on offense the Bears are going into no huddle offense. Cutler now goes to work calling plays to expose the injured player. The injured cornerback fights through it during a couple of plays, but the defense has to waste a timeout to regroup and replace him. The opponents fourth best cornerback now has to enter the game. The Bears then have the advantage because they made their opponent waste a timeout. Now, if Chicago elects to stay in no huddle," it may force their opponent to go into base defense without their top group.

2. The Bears transition to regular personnel on first and 10, which comes out to two wide receivers, one tight end and two running backs. But they elect to go with pony backfield. This term refers to when you substitute out the fullback with a halfback. So in this example, Matt Forte and Michael Bush are in the game. If the Bears call regular personnel, the defense is going to call regular personnel to match up. In our example, they would want three linebackers (4-3 defense so SLB, MLB, WLB) in the game to match up effectively. The Bears motion Matt Forte out of the backfield into the strong side slot position. The defense adjusts by walking the strong side linebacker out on Forte.

Ladies and gentleman, we have our matchups. Cutler announces attack again and changes the play to a 40 draw run play to Michael Bush, because the defense has just taken another defender out of the run box. It is now six on six in the run box without the strong side linebacker who is better suited to stop the run. Jay may elect to stay in no huddle, calling pass plays with Matt Forte who would destroy any SLB in the league now.

There are many more examples, but the no huddle offense is a nice weapon to have in your arsenal. Defenses normally panic and play base defense until they settle down, figuring out how to attack it. An offense can steal a series or two in a game if they jump in and out of no huddle.

Blackhawks select Adam Boqvist with the No. 8 overall pick

Blackhawks select Adam Boqvist with the No. 8 overall pick

DALLAS — For the first time since drafting Patrick Kane first overall in 2007, the Blackhawks owned a top-10 pick in the NHL Draft. There was speculation that Stan Bowman might get aggressive and trade the No. 8 selection for immediate help if a deal made sense.

Instead, the draft couldn't have unfolded more favorably for the Blackhawks, who elected to keep the pick and drafted defenseman Adam Boqvist.

“You can never have enough D," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said on the NBCSN broadcast. "He moves the puck, he’s very active in the play, very dynamic in a lot of ways. He can help our power play down the road, I am looking forward to seeing how he does in the summer and going into camp."

"There’s opportunity here on the back end with our team, and it’s going to be competitive along the way, but certainly you got a guy that can move the puck and get involved offensively, those guys are hard to find.”

Boqvist is a 5-foot-11, 168-pound right-handed shot blue-liner who's drawn comparisons to Erik Karlsson, given his offensive ability.

"I know they have lots of Swedish defensemen," Boqvist said of the Blackhawks. "They played pretty well as a team and like to have the puck, you know, [Patrick] Kane. Yeah, I like it."

He compiled 24 points (14 goals, 10 assists) in 25 games for the Brynas J20 squad in the SuperElit league, and added three goals and two assists in three playoff games. But his production dropped off when he moved up to the Swedish Hockey League, where he registered only one assist in 15 games.

As we mentioned in our NHL Draft Profile this week, there are a few concerns about Boqvist.

He's only 17 years old and his defensive work needs improvement, meaning the Blackhawks must be patient with his development. He's also sustained a couple head injuries over the course of his young career, which adds some risk to the equation.

But there's clearly major upside if you're being compared to Karlsson.

"I think I need to improve my defensive play and need to be bigger and stronger," Boqvist said. "Of course, my offense can be better, too, so almost everything."

Boqvist joins Henri Jokiharju and Ian Mitchell as the team's top three defensive prospects, all of whom have right-handed shots.

Stan Bowman: Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford 'progressing like he normally would'

Stan Bowman: Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford 'progressing like he normally would'

Stan Bowman likes where Corey Crawford is at this state of the offseason, he said Friday prior to the NHL Draft.

Speaking with NBC Sports Chicago's Pat Boyle, Bowman noted that while Crawford hasn't begun doing any on-ice work, that isn't unusual for players this early.

"We’ve been in contact with Corey and I think he’s been progressing like he normally would," Bowman said. "Most guys don’t do a lot of on-ice work the first couple of months of the offseason.

"Typically they get back on the ice sometime in July, some guys don’t skate until August. I think that’s sort of the plan for Corey as we go along here. I would say he’s right on the normal schedule for the offseason and we’ll just see how that goes."

That's good news for the Blackhawks, who sorely missed Crawford a year ago. The three-time Stanley Cup champion appeared in just 28 games, earning a 16-9-2 record and a 2.27 GAA.