Back to the Basics

Maybe the best thing about Ron Turner's offense is that it's different than Terry Shea's.

The system Turner ran in Champaign relied on the wideouts as the primary pass catchers with the fullbacks playing a much bigger role than the running backs in the passing game. Unlike Shea, Turner has not placed much emphasis on the tight ends as pass receivers, although they have played a more important role in the red zone.

In Turner's final six seasons at Illinois, wide receivers caught 843 passes, fullbacks were next with 279, followed by running backs with 150 and tight ends with 115, although 23 of those catches went for touchdowns.

"It will be totally new," Turner said Tuesday in his first Halas Hall press conference. "But I think it will be one that I think (players) will be able to pick up pretty quickly. We'll start out teaching the terminology of what we're doing and then teaching the concepts that we're going to run. Once they get the concepts, then they've got it."

Turner will use the playbook he's developed at Illinois the last eight seasons with changes for the different NFL rules and modifications for personnel. He said it would take several weeks before he's finished tweaking, but it won't be as voluminous as Shea's playbook.

"We'll keep it to the point where it's simple enough early that they can execute," Turner said, "but also diverse enough that we'll be able to attack all the different situations and all the different defenses whether it's red zone, third down, first down, whatever.

"You can do a lot of different things, and you can have a huge playbook, but if they can't execute it you're in trouble. And if you don't have enough to give them a chance to make plays, then you're in trouble. We'll find that balance."

Turner has already talked to several Bears who requested playbooks, and he's had discussions with incumbent quarterback Rex Grossman, which will continue in the coming weeks while he continues to rehab his injured knee at Halas Hall. Turner reiterated his commitment to the running game but indicated that having the ability to run is more important than running on any certain percentage of offensive plays.

"The key to making an offense work at any level is having a plan and executing, and that's something that we're going to do," Turner said. "I think it starts with the running game, especially at this level. If you can run the football, that opens up so many things in the controlled-passing game, the play-action passing game and a lot of other things. That's really a philosophy that I've had for a long time.

"If you can run the ball, then that sets up the opportunity to score some points by making plays in the passing game."

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