The Bears have concluded their 2010 Training Camp in Bourbonnais, Illinois and will now head back to the relative privacy of Lake Forest to continue their preseason program as they get ready for what many hope will be a great season.
There were many things that we learned during this training camp and there were several interesting things that happened during the past few weeks in Bourbonnais.
Here are some observations made during the Bears training camp along with some commentary on what got accomplished, what didn’t and how this training camp will affect the 2010 season.
1. Training camp was electric! This training was one of the more exciting training camps not only because of the action on the field but also from what you could hear and understand from the people watching it. In conversations with several fans, it was clear that they were excited about the upcoming season and energized by what they were seeing on the field no matter if it was on offense or defense.
The biggest thing that fans wanted to see in this camp was that the offense would improve with new offensive coordinator Mike Martz at the helm. They were treated to several big throws by the quarterbacks and some acrobatic catches by the wide receivers and they got to see that at least on the practice field, the new offense works.
2. The offense is going to be good no matter what. Things have to be better than last season right? Don’t worry they will. If anything, Martz’s offense is going to give opposing defenses a lot more to think about this season and will make the Bears multi-dimensional. You could see as camp went on that all of the starters got a firm grip on the offense and were fully comprehending it.
As long as Martz doesn’t forget the running game as well as the tight ends (as he's notorious for doing), this offense could end up being one of the better offenses in the NFC North.
3. Forgotten but not gone? The Bears are one of the most predictable teams in the NFL when it comes to cutting players. In training camp, if you see someone that they aren’t giving any reps to and who they appear to be “down” on almost 100% of the time that person will be gone at the end of training camp.
After having what most would consider to be a pretty good season last year, wide receiver Earl Bennett has been in the doghouse in training camp (and has been injured) probably because he hasn’t been able to learn the new playbook that Martz has brought to the team.
Cornerback D.J. Moore, who is known for his short stature, hasn’t seen as many reps as the other defensive backs, and may not be around when final cuts are made.
There is one more player who hasn’t seen a lot of practice time and this one comes as a little bit of a surprise. Defensive lineman and third round pick Jarron Gilbert hasn’t been seeing a lot of reps in training camp and there is word that his job may be in jeopardy. Stay tuned.
4. Julius Peppers is the real deal. If his training camp play is any indication, Peppers will end up being everything that the Bears wanted and perhaps more this season. He has been able to rush the passer effectively (albeit against a pretty mediocre Bear’s offensive line at times) but didn’t prove much in the Bear’s game against the Chargers. He will see more opportunities as the preseason wears on.
One of the bigger benefits of having Peppers around is that he takes some of the pressure off of the other defensive linemen and will allow them to make plays. One guy who should benefit greatly from this is defensive tackle Tommie Harris.
Harris, who has struggled the past couple of seasons staying healthy and staying in the good graces of his coaching staff, should benefit from not having to be double teamed on a regular basis now that Peppers is here. This means that there is no excuse why he shouldn’t perform this season.
5. Just how good is this coaching staff? The Bears have a lot of great history on the coaching staff having three former head coaches, two of which have had some success in the NFL. Will these coaches be able to get the most out of their players this season? Could one of them be the guy who takes over for Smith if and when he finally leaves Chicago? We may find out at the end of the season.
So how does all of this affect what happens in the regular season? If the Bears don’t get some kind of continuity going between their starters, they could stumble right out of the gate this year and have a slow start. The Bears need to continue to keep their starters practicing together so that they build the cohesion and trust that is necessary to play in the regular season.
The Bears won’t show us (or their opponents) their entire arsenal during the preseason. Things are pretty basic during training camp and preseason so we haven’t seen everything that the Bears have to offer us.
Chicago will go to train in Lake Forest now and hopefully they will be able to fix their problems, get things ready, and be well prepared for the upcoming season. Let’s hope that they can fix the problems that they have and win some games in 2010.