Reality of offseason hype is closer to hope

When Bears put on pads there will be clearer indication of what they can accomplish offensively

Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker says he is "encouraged" by the progress made by his unit at this point.

NFL offseason hype can be ridiculously predictable.

No adversity, no real competition, no signs of trouble.

It's a comfortable setting where jobs aren't really for sale just yet and practice is, well, a shell of what's coming in training camp when shoulder pads (and hitting) are thrown into the mix.

Is it necessary? Of course it is. Every player needs time in the spring months to practice technique, install the playbook and work on his craft as a pro.

But let's all be honest here when it comes to the Bears' new offense under Marc Trestman — because there are no guarantees this unit will hit the ground running on the first day of training camp or the first month of the regular season.

It's tough to install a new offense with new terminology and techniques and expect everything to be cool.

Unlike defensive football where the ability to lineup, read your keys and run to the ball allows you to compete, the offensive side is much more scripted and needs time to come to fruition.

Think of it this way: If defense is freshman algebra then offense is advanced calculus with exams that expose your weakness.

Sure, I saw enough this offseason at the quick paced, up-tempo minicamps and OTAs to get a feel for what Trestman wants to do from a scheme perspective. It's a proven system, a smart system that leans on quick passing, inside breaking routes and multiple personnel groupings to target defensive coverages.

It's a West Coast plan that will adapt to today's game and also cater to quarterback Jay Cutler's deep ball arm when given the opportunity. The Bears are going to chuck the ball down the field, and running back Matt Forte is an ideal fit for what Trestman wants to accomplish in his game plan.

However, I can't say there aren't questions — or doubts — as the Bears rush out of town on their summer vacation before the real work starts.

General manager Phil Emery has given Cutler a nice new menu of options the last two offseasons with receiving weapons (including an upgrade at tight end) and now a revamped offensive line via free agency and the draft.

There are no more excuses to make here when breaking down the Bears' offensive personnel. And while I'm not going to compare this group to the Packers roster, it has enough talent to compete. That's the point.

But will it work for a quarterback who has failed to mesh with coaching during his tenure with the Bears? Even in a contract year, and in a system where Cutler can put up numbers, has the time come when we finally stop talking about his "skill set" and focus on real production?

How about rookie first-round pick Kyle Long? Can he develop quickly enough after limited playing time at a major BCS program while missing almost the entire offseason because of an asinine NFL rule?

And don't forget about Alshon Jeffery. He has the talent to be a true No. 2 option opposite Pro Bowler Brandon Marshall. He will improve and develop as a route runner. But to do that, and to show some accountability as a pro, he has to stay healthy and practice.

The offensive line? This unit is improved and there will be some competition for jobs when they put their hands on the ground in Bourbonnais. I know that. But high-priced free agent Jermon Bushrod has to be the "guy" on the blind side who can operate outside of the Saints' productive system.

Last week after practice, Cutler admitted learning a new offensive system is a "three-year process." Maybe the quarterback is telling us to throw some cold water on the idea that this unit is primed to score 40 points per game.

Will the offense be better than the "drop back and throw the ball to Marshall" game plan we saw last season?

Yeah, it will. But we need to slow down a little bit on grand expectations and realize that offseason hype never has won a game in the NFL.

Twitter @MattBowen41

Special contributor Matt Bowen, who played at Glenbard West and Iowa, spent seven seasons in the NFL as a strong safety.

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