Turner gets Thumbs Up from Two Former Bears

Ron Turner still gets high marks from those who played for him is his first go-round as the Bears' offensive coordinator from 1993-96.

"It's a step in the right direction," former Bears wide receiver Tom Waddle said, "but they still have a long road to go."

Waddle's final two seasons in Chicago coincided with Turner's first two as the offensive boss. Waddle remembers Turner as a regular guy, up front, honest and down to earth.

"Ron's not going to give himself a 'B' grade when his offense is last in the league (as Terry Shea did)," Waddle said. "I loved the guy. He was not only a great offensive coordinator but a great communicator. It was Dave Wannstedt's first stint as a head coach, and he had his hands on everything. But Ron was a great buffer. I don't remember one guy who had anything bad to say about him."

But Waddle is concerned that Turner might not get a fair shake this time around because of his poor 35-57 record at Illinois.

"The problem is everybody will look at his record at Illinois and he'll already have one strike against him," Waddle said. "But what they should be looking at is eight years earlier and what he did with the Bears. It's been a long time since the Bears' offense has been as productive as it was under him."

Quarterback Erik Kramer's career year in 1995 came under Turner's guidance.

"I think it's a big win for the Bears," Kramer said. "I think the Bears are lucky. Ron is a fantastic coordinator and was instrumental in my success. I learned an awful lot from him. I think as a coordinator, what he does is put people in position to be successful."

Turner's arrival means that Rex Grossman will be working with his fifth different offensive coordinator in as many years dating to his final two seasons at Florida. But rather than complaining about having to digest another new playbook, the Bears quarterback is eager to begin operating Turner's West Coast system.

"I've heard him describe the offense and I'm excited about playing for him," Grossman said. "He seems like a nice guy. The people that were here when he was the coordinator (during his first stint from 1993-96) say he's a great guy. I look forward to getting to know him and working with him.

"I enjoy having some input. I've been in systems where I had a lot of input. I've been in systems where I've called plays on the field. With (Florida coach Steve) Spurrier, I would change routes and had that ability to get us into the right play against any given defense. I've been with (John) Shoop where you were not allowed to say 'boo' and he was a dictator. There's merit in both of them. Coach (Terry) Shea allowed us to give him some input on the sidelines about what we liked, especially game-planning. He would listen to us a little bit with some of our personal preferences."

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