Turner Covets More Playmakers

Say what you will about Ron Turner's offense, but the fact remains that his unit went from 29th in the NFL two years ago to 15th last season. Things will be a little different in 2007 with Cedric Benson as the primary tailback, but Turner thinks he'll get some help in the draft. The OC spent some one-on-one time with BearReport.com Editor in Chief John Crist on Tuesday at Halas Hall.

John Crist – Editor in Chief, BearReport.com: Rex Grossman is coming off a year when he finally played a full season and didn't get hurt. How much of a difference will that make in 2007, and can you now open up the playbook a little more?

Ron Turner – Offensive Coordinator, Chicago Bears: I don't know about opening up the playbook a whole lot more. I just know the execution is going to be a lot better. Not just by Rex but by everybody. The longer you're in a system, the longer you're doing your style and doing what you do, the better you're going to be. Rex has had – for the first time, as you said – he'll have an offseason now coming after a full season and now an offseason to get better. He hasn't had that. If you look going into last season, he was here. He had a long season, but he didn't play the year before. He only played a few games. He was coming off an injury. It's the first time he's had an entire offseason to study himself, to look at what we're doing, to reflect on it all, and to move forward – physically and mentally.

JC: Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson have very different running styles. Now that Thomas is gone and Cedric is your No. 1 guy, will you have to amend your play-calling to some degree?

RT: Yeah, we'll tweak it a little bit. Everybody has their strengths. As a coordinator and as a play-caller, part of your job is always try to get the most out of your players and put them in position to make plays. You definitely call things that you feel they do better, that they're going to have the best chance to have success, and that will definitely be the case with Cedric. We went back and looked back at all of his runs and all the cut-ups and everything we did, and there won't be major changes. We're still going to run the same plays, but the emphasis on when we do them and what we do might change a little bit.

JC: What are the physical characteristics you look for in an offensive lineman in addition to flat-out measurable size?

RT: No. 1, they have to be physical. They've got to be tough. They've got to be physical. They have to get after it. That's the No. 1 thing we look for. Then obviously athleticism, feet, and all that come into play. And it depends on the position. If you're looking at a left tackle, the need for athleticism goes up a little bit. But they still have to have an innate toughness to them – someone who wants to get after it. If you're looking at a right tackle, maybe a little more emphasis on size and toughness and then the athletic ability can maybe go down a little bit. So it kind of depends on the position, but toughness is key.

JC: The draft involves a lot more people than just the general manager and the scouting department. How much of an active role do you take on draft weekend?

RT: Not as much as I'd like. No, I'm teasing. A lot. Most of it's done prior to draft day. On draft day, really, it's almost like game day. Everything's pretty much done. On game day, we've got our chart on 1st-and-10 [and] 3rd-and-short. Here's what we're going to call on the first 3rd-and-short. Here's what we're going to call on the first 3rd-and-5. You know, all that stuff. The work is done going into it, so there's not a lot of discussion on game day sitting there like, "What do you want to run here?" That happens maybe in between series, but when you have an actual play, you don't say, "Alright what do we want to do here on 3rd-and-1 or 3-and-5 or whatever." Same thing on draft day. The work is done. My input is pretty much done.

JC: Do you have a wishlist of specific needs that you would like to see addressed in this draft?

RT: Another play-making receiver, a speed running back, a play-making tight end, and a good young offensive lineman.

JC: That's it, huh?

RT: That's it. That's four. What do we have, seven picks? That not bad. Four of them. That's not too much to ask for.

John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and Editor in Chief of BearReport.com. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.

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