The future offense of the Chicago Bears is still in its incubation stage. At this point, the coaching staff has only had time to contact players here and there, while pouring over game film. Beyond that, little progress has been made. Head coach Marc Trestman still needs to hire a wide receivers coach and the playbook is still being developed.
"We don't have [a playbook] in place as of yet. It's in the process as we move through all of the other things that are happening," Trestman said. "That's one of the things we're doing is putting our playbook together in hard copy, because we do have the ability to send those books out, but we haven't completed them yet. That'll be within a reasonable amount of time we'll be able to get it out to them."
With the Scouting Combine less than a week away, and free agency starting in less than a month, it would behoove Trestman to quickly get his coaching staff out of its preliminary stages.
"We've made some determinations for the timeline that we think will be sufficient," said Trestman. "Once the players get back here really for the third week of the April month – the different phases that we can go through with our players, the OTAs – we'll certainly be ready to go. We have a timeline that will allow us to be finished much in front of that so we can take a look at the completed product and go through it as a staff sufficiently, so that when we present it to our players, it will be clean in all aspects: the terminology, to plays, to numbering systems, things like that."
The first step for new offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer is to evaluate the offensive line, a group with which he must familiarize himself over the next few weeks. After that, he'll be able to make determinations on where improvements need to be made.
"When you're talking about an offensive line, you really try to play to their strengths," Kromer said. "What do they do well? What kind of run blocking is best for them? What kind of pass-protection schemes are best for them? And just know what they can do and use it to your advantage.
"When you're putting the whole thing together, it's important that the five guys can play together and you have a couple of backups that can fill in. When it's all said and done it's how well they play together, how well they play within the system and how you can utilize their strengths."
That task is made much more difficult considering neither Kromer, nor assistant offensive line coach Pat Meyer, has worked with any of the offensive linemen on the current Bears roster.
"It's a group that you have to work with to find out their [strength and weaknesses]," said Kromer. "You can't watch tape always and tell exactly the way an offensive lineman is. So I look forward to working with the group and really getting hands on and finding out, using techniques that we've used in the past, and finding out what the guys attributes are and using that to our advantage."
This is particularly important for the front five, which has to work closely together in tight quarters in order for the offense to have success.
"An offensive line has to be a tight group," Meyer said. "The five guys that are in there, they've got to know, not only the football that's going on, but they've got to be tight knit, almost buddy-buddy at times. That's the type of culture you want your line to be. You want them to be leaders. You want your line to lead. That's the type of intangibles we don't know yet until we get around them. But we have some talent up front and we're excited to get to work with them when the time comes."
Getting the group to work well together in pass protection will be crucial, as the Bears have been in the bottom third of the league in sacks allowed the past three years. Unless Jay Cutler can stay upright, Chicago's offense will continue to stagnate.
A more difficult task could be developing a run game, which will use both man- and zone-blocking schemes, something the Bears did not utilize last season.
"The run blocking will be a combination of things," said Kromer. "It'll be a variety of inside zones and gap schemes. We'll use all the schemes, to be honest, and try to keep a balance and the defense off guard."
How those schemes develop will be based mainly on the talent available to the staff come the start of offseason activities.
"You evaluate them, and then once you get them in, you're going to have to adjust what you're going to do scheme-wise with the talent that we have," Meyer said.
"The biggest challenge is communication, and understanding and learning by the players we have," Kromer added. "They've had some change in their offense over the last few years and like anywhere, you have to adapt. You have to be able to teach the player what you want. You have to be able to understand what you're looking for and we have to be able to understand what they can do. It's a learning process that you hope to expedite as quickly as possible."
To that end, Meyer said it's important to break down the offensive linemen, technique-wise, and then build them back into the type of player the staff is looking for.
"[We'll use] their God-gifted talent, whatever they have in terms of talent, and then we'll adjust and teach them our techniques, which may differ from what they've done in the past," said Meyer. "That's going to be a big part of it, just the technique part of it."
While Kromer's title is offensive coordinator, Trestman will have final say on the finished product. The two worked together with the Oakland Raiders from 2001-2003, while Kromer has spent the past five years as part of the staff directing the New Orleans Saints' high-powered offensive attack.
"Marc and I have a history together, back with the Oakland Raiders," said Kromer. "We had a lot of success there and obviously the New Orleans offense has been successful lately. It'll be a combination of a lot of things.
"You're going to see an attacking-style offense that utilizes the personnel that we have. As we get working with them, you'll see multiple personnel groups. You'll see multiple formations. You'll see multiple passing points where we drop back and pass, quick passing, deep drop backs, rollouts. You're going to see a lot of variation to try to keep the defense off balance."
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.