bears offense

How Bears' Offense Plans to Thrive Despite WR Issues

How Bears' offense plans to thrive despite wide receiver issues originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The Bears' offense will be under the microscope this season as new head coach Matt Eberflus and offensive coordinator Luke Getsy look to help Justin Fields take a big leap in Year 2.

The choice to hire Eberflus, a defensive-minded head coach, raised some eyebrows because of what it meant for Fields and his development. The Bears' uninspiring offseason wide receiver additions of Byron Pringle and Equanimeous St. Brown did little to assuage those concerns.

But Getsy is confident that more prominent roles for St. Brown and Pringle will lead to more impact plays.

It's also clear that the Bears plan to rely on tight end Cole Kmet heavily in the passing game and utilize their running backs to put defenses in difficult positions.

The Bears drafted Baylor running back Trestan Ebner in the sixth round, and his self-proclaimed "best attribute" highlights how the Bears plan to take pressure off a thin and unproven receiving corps.

"I'm like most comfortable with catching the ball and making people miss after I catch it," Ebner said Friday at Bears rookie minicamp at Halas Hall.

While defensive-minded head coaches have gotten a bad rap as the football has become more wide open, Eberflus is using his experience as a defensive coordinator to inform how he wants his offense to attack.

Ebner's ability to be a threat in the passing game is one of the reasons the Bears targeted him late in the draft, and Eberflus expects all of Chicago's backs to be able to split out wide and be reliable targets for Fields.

"I agree with spreading things around and having weapon backs where you can move them out and have the whole route tree," Eberflus said Friday when asked if pass-catching backs could make up for the lack of depth at receiver. "We know what a pain that is for the defense to have to deal with that and the matchup issue. Do you match them with a safety? Can you match them with a linebacker? The more those guys can do, the harder it is to defend. We'll have a few guys do that."

In five seasons at Baylor, Ebner caught 127 passes for 1,515 yards and 11 touchdowns. The 23-year-old sees a lot of similarities between Getsy's offense and the system he played in at Baylor, which gives him the confidence that he can contribute early on in his NFL career.

The Bears also have two capable receiving running backs in David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert.

Last season, Montgomery caught 42 passes for 301 yards. He grabbed 54 balls for 438 yards and two touchdowns in 2020.

All this is to say, the Bears should have several options to utilize when it comes to receiving weapons in the backfield.

Getsy plans to tailor his offense to Fields' strengths. Based on what we have seen from the Shanahan tree, that scheme calls for a zone-heavy running game, utilizing boot action off it, getting the ball to playmakers on open throws over the middle, and relying on yards after the catch.

That plays into Ebner and fellow rookie Velus Jones Jr.'s strengths. Jones, who the Bears drafted in the third round, has already impressed Getsy, who is cooking up ways to utilize the Swiss Army knife receiver.

"That's what the whole offense is built around, the versatility of everyone," Getsy said Sunday about Jones Jr. "So, we want versatile guys, guys that can do a bunch of different things, give us an opportunity to do a bunch of different things with each guy. So, we don't want just one guy that can run down the field. We don't want just one guy that can run a choice route. We want guys that can do a bunch of different things."m

Eberflus and Getsy have a plan to craft an offense that can attack defenses in various ways. Darnell Mooney and Cole Kmet will likely be Options 1 and 2. The hope is that St. Brown or Pringle will elevate their game with an increased role.

Sprinkle in the versatility of Jones Jr. and Ebner, should they prove NFL worthy, and Getsy and Fields might have enough arrows in their offensive quiver to give defenses fits on Sundays.

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