Updated: October 15, 2013 7:17AM
The Bears’ offense always seems to get picked on by the country’s ever-growing legion of pundits.
This week it was Jamie Dukes, the ex-Falcons offensive lineman and current analyst with NFL Network, who suggested on WSCR-AM (670) that the offense hasn’t changed at all.
Really? That’s not what everybody else has been saying. Let’s take a look.
In 2012 under coach Lovie Smith and offensive coordinator Mike Tice, the Bears averaged 23.4 points per game, 310.6 yards per game, 123.1 rushing yards per game, 187.4 passing yards per game, 36.5 percent third-down efficiency and 5.2 yards per offensive play.
Against the Bengals, the Bears scored 24 points, had 323 yards of offense, 81 yards on the ground and 242 yards through the air, converted 42.9 percent on third down and averaged 5.3 yards per play.
Hmm, could Dukes be on to something? Maybe.
But if you understand that statistics can lie and look a little deeper, you can go all Lee Corso on Dukes with a ‘‘not so fast, my friend.’’
Pull back the covers, and it appears a big part of Marc Trestman’s plan is based on success breeding more success, and he’s trying to get the fundamentals in place before he starts playing with the bells and whistles.
The reality is the Bears’ offense was very different in the first half against the Bengals than it was in the second half. Asked what halftime adjustments he made, Trestman said none. He just wanted to “keep Jay Cutler clean” in the first half, in essence saying, “Let’s prove to ourselves we can block this, then we’ll go for more,”
In the second half, Trestman said he just started calling more of the plays in the game plan once he knew they could block them.
The offense was actually worse than last year in the first half, producing only 92 yards, but much better than 2012 in the second half, churning out 231.
Cutler was asked Thursday if he thinks the offense is restricted at this point, and he said, “Yes and no. We want to make sure we protect and we’re able to get rid of the ball. We don’t want to take sacks. We want to keep the front five confident, keep me confident and believing in those guys. But, at the same time, we’ve got to play football. If that requires us taking a shot or getting five [receivers] out, that’s what we’ve got to do.”
Which brings us to another point about where the offense is at and where it’s going. It’s hard to get five receivers out if you only have three.
Marquess Wilson was inactive against the Bengals, and Joe Anderson dressed but didn’t take a snap on offense. That speaks volumes about where Trestman believes his receiving corps is at.
It’s not to say the kids can’t play, but apparently they’re not ready. It appears that Kyle Long and Jordan Mills are ready. But they’re not playing because they were so ready Trestman couldn’t keep them off the field; they’re playing because they have to.
Anyone who suggests this offense isn’t dramatically different from what Bears fans are used to isn’t paying attention to personnel groupings, play-calling and execution.
This offense is already better than any the Bears have fielded in recent seasons and very different from what Tice, Mike Martz and Ron Turner coached.
But we’ll have to wait until it has been fully taught and fully learned and until Trestman has all the bullets he needs to see how good it’ll be. I’m not a fan yet; I just know there’s still a lot we haven’t seen.
• Hub Arkush covers the Bears for Shaw Media and HubArkush.com.