Bears: Martellus Bennett calls Adam Gase's offense 'empowering'


Bears: Martellus Bennett calls Adam Gase's offense 'empowering'

It isn’t often that a receiver in any position catches 90 passes, earns a trip to the Pro Bowl, yet achieved it in an offense he considers stale and stifling. But such was the case for Martellus Bennett in 2014.

Bennett, beginning in his fourth different offense in eight NFL seasons, described the system of coordinator Adam Gase and staff “empowering,” a term that few would apply to the offense of Marc Trestman.

“At first [the Trestman offense] was difficult to learn but after you got it, it pretty much was what it was, no changes week to week,” Bennett said. “We ran the same offense no matter what… . Last year we ran the same stuff no matter what. It was predictable. If it was third down and the down-and-distance was something, I could call a play before it came in.

“And if I could do it, [Green Bay defensive coordinator] Dom Capers could do it.”

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Not so what Bennett has experienced in a relatively short time under Gase. Despite missing most of the offseason program and practices, Bennett immediately took to a system notable for fitting itself to the player rather than the player to the system.

“I feel like I get to do everything that’s in my repertoire now,” Bennett said. “Everything I’ve shown them I can do, they find a way to use it. They don’t just stick you in a role. They craft a role for each guy when they see what you can and can’t do; use the things you do well and limit using the ones you don’t.

“They craft the role to the player rather than the player to the role. Which is empowering.”

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Which is basically what Gase has found with Bennett, a 6-foot-6 physical target (who’s listed at 265 but wants his weight kept a mystery) who will block and is a student of both his craft and his offense.

“He's so smart,” Gase said. “He came in, and how fast he learned the playbook for not being here. And then being able to adjust... how physical he is in the run game and pass protection - it's so unique. Not many tight ends you see that can do what he does.”

Roquan Smith helps shear a sheep at Bears community event

Roquan Smith helps shear a sheep at Bears community event

Roquan Smith has more sheared sheep than tackles on his stat sheet as a pro football player.

Smith and several other Bears rookies participated in a hands-on community event at Lambs Farm in Libertyville, Illinois on Monday where he assisted farm staff with the sheep's grooming. Smith said it was a first for him despite growing up around animals. 

"It's like on the norm for me though, playing linebacker you're in the trenches," Smith said of the experience.

"Shaving a sheep, I never really envisioned myself doing something like that," Smith said via "I was around animals [growing up], but it was more so cows and goats here and there and dogs and cats. I've petted a sheep before, but never actually flipped one and shaved one."

Bears rookies got up close and personal with more than just sheep.

Smith was selected with the eighth overall pick in April's draft and will assume a starting role opposite Danny Trevathan at inside linebacker this season. Here's to hoping he can wrangle opposing ball-carriers like a sheep waiting to be sheared.

The Bears' defense is ahead of its offense, but Matt Nagy doesn't see that as a problem

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The Bears' defense is ahead of its offense, but Matt Nagy doesn't see that as a problem

Asking players about how the defense is “ahead” of the offense is a yearly right of passage during OTAs, sort of like how every baseball team has about half its players saying they’re in the best shape of their life during spring training. So that Vic Fangio’s defense is ahead of Matt Nagy’s offense right now isn’t surprising, and it's certainly not concerning. 

But Nagy is also working to install his offense right now during OTAs to build a foundation for training camp. So does the defense — the core of which is returning with plenty of experience in Fangio’s system — being ahead of the offense hurt those efforts?

“It’s actually good for us because we’re getting an experienced defense,” Nagy said. “My message to the team on the offensive side is just be patient and don’t get frustrated. They understand that they’re going to play a little bit faster than us right now. We’ll have some growing pains, but we’ll get back to square one in training camp.”

We’ll have a chance to hear from the Bears’ offensive players following Wednesday’s practice, but for now, the guys on Fangio’s defense have come away impressed with that Nagy’s offense can be. 

“The offense is a lot … just very tough,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said. “They’re moving well. They’re faster. They’re throwing a lot of different looks at us and that’s just Nagy’s offense. If I was a receiver I would love to play in this offense, just because you get to do so many different things and you get so many different plays. It just looks fun over there.”

“They’re moving together, and I like to see that,” linebacker Danny Trevathan said. “We’re not a bad defense. They’re practicing against us, so they’re getting better every day, and vice versa. It’s a daily grind. It’s going to be tough, but those guys, they got the right pieces. I like what I see out there. When somebody makes a play, they’re gone. Everybody can run over there. It’s the right fit for Mitch, it’s the right fit for the receivers, the running backs.”

Still, for all the praise above, the defense is “winning” more, at least as much as it can without the pads on. But the offense is still having some flashes, even as it collectively learns the terminology, concepts and formations used by Nagy. 

And that leads to a competitive atmosphere at Halas Hall, led by the Bears’ new head coach. 

“He’s an offensive coach and last year coach (John) Fox, I couldn’t really talk stuff to (him) because he’s a defensive coach and it’s like Nagy’s offense so if I get a pick or something, I mean, I like to talk stuff to him,” Amukamara said. “He’ll say something like ‘we’re coming at you 2-0.’ Stuff like that. That just brings out the competition and you always want that in your head coach.”