But the Bears entire offensive scheme won’t be revamped because of his presence.
Last season, the Bears threw the ball 528 times. They ran it on 434 occasions. When head coach Lovie Smith says the Bears “get off the bus running,” he’s lying.
The truth is, the Bears’ pass-to-run ratio wasn’t that far off from the league averages of 516.4 and 441.2. And don’t expect that to change this season.
Why would the Bears pass more when they have 1,200-yard-runner Matt Forte carrying the ball? Some Bears fans might think that since the team finally has a quarterback, offensive coordinator Ron Turner should throw caution to the wind, and the ball, all over the field. He shouldn’t.
The Bears will still play their game. Having Cutler behind center just means they can play it better.
It’s not a stretch to say the running game needs to improve. Forte only averaged 3.9 yards per carry in ’08. But running the ball less isn’t going to help his production; Forte has shown he gets better the more carries he gets in a given game.
In games he got at least 20 carries in 2009, Forte averaged 4.2 yards per carry. When he carried the ball less than 20 times, his average was 3.1 yards per carry.
The Bears version of the West Coast offense won’t be much different in ’09; what will be is the quarterback and the plays called for him.
The Bears will likely pass more this season—in certain situations. For example, last season on third-and-long, the team might have given the ball to Forte in order to—yes—set up the punt. Now they’ll let Cutler create plays, as the team will have confidence he will at least not turn the ball over.
In late game situations, Cutler will likely be asked to carry the Bears. Instead of a diet of Forte and short passes by Orton late in games, particularly when the Bears are trailing, expect it to be pass, pass, pass, by Cutler.
And since Cutler has the ability to throw deep and accurate, look for the Bears to stretch the field more than they did in previous seasons. In other words: the term “game manager” is hereby banned in the greater Chicago area.
The Bears last three quarterbacks under Ron Turner—Rex Grossman, Kyle Orton, and Brian Griese—were strictly pocket passers. Grossman was short and timid, Orton was slow, and Griese slow and old. Simply put: they couldn’t move.
Now the team has a certified scrambler in Cuter. So you’d have to figure the Bears will call more rollouts and other plays to get No. 6 out of the pocket.
With the addition of Cutler, expect the Bears offense to be more versatile. Just don’t expect a full-scale overhaul of the offensive playbook.
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