When Chicago Bears return specialist Devin Hester was given a shot at wide receiver, he was mediocre at best. Granted, he did not have an offensive coordinator who utilized him correctly, but he was just not cut out for that position. For the life of me, I still can’t believe at one point he was the Bears’ number one wideout. Back in January, Hester brought up the possibility of him being solely on special teams as a return man.
Enter head coach Marc Trestman, who identified the magic man as that and only that, and everyone is happy. The fans get to see the most electrifying returner in the game, the coaches have an easy job since they don’t have a player who is unhappy with his role and the players get to keep blocking for a man who is, as Bears’ radio broadcaster Jeff Joniak put it back in 2006, “ridiculous”.
Hester is officially back to his jaw-dropping ways, as he had returns of 76, 80 and 44 yards last week against the Minnesota Vikings. His first return, which was an answer to Vikings’ return man Cordarrelle Patterson and his 105-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, set up Bears’ tight end Martellus Bennett for a one-yard touchdown catch to give the Bears an early lead. He racked up a franchise record 249 yards as a kick returner last Sunday, all in a day’s work for number 23.
Trestman providing blueprint for Chicago Bears’ success
The Bears’ brass brought in Aaron Kromer, formerly the offensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints, to give quarterback Jay Cutler a fresh identity and, for everyone who has watched Cutler with the Bears over the years, a huge sense of relief. Whenever names like Mike Martz, Mike Tice and Lovie Smith are mentioned, fans everywhere cringe. Those guys suffocated Cutler and the offense, and did not allow them to flourish like Trestman and Kromer (so far) have. Kromer, who with the Saints helped quarterback Drew Brees win offensive player of the year awards in 2008 and ’11, has the opportunity to do what he helped Brees do in his years with the Saints.
Possessing an quarterback rating of 95.4 and QBR of 74.0, Cutler has thrown for 532 yards and five touchdowns with three interceptions, all while engineering two clutch comeback performances. While it is entirely too early to project the league’s MVP, Cutler and Kromer are a combination that can definitely produce MVP numbers. Running back Matt Forte has seen an increased role in the passing game, with 114 receiving yards in two games. Trestman wants Forte to be an extra asset in the passing game, and he can certainly be a threat to defenses on the ground and in the air. The running back looks lighter and more explosive, so look for him to excel in this offense.
Wide receiver Brandon Marshall has had a great start to the year, as he has had 100-plus yards in these two games along with two touchdowns. Marshall is a key cog to Cutler and his passing performance, and I think these two can finally have a year to remember in 2013.
Speaking of extra threats in the passing game, Bennett has been just that. So far, the tight end has 125 yards receiving on ten targets with three touchdowns. Last week, Bennett had a one-yard touchdown catch and the game-winning 16-yard reception. Not only was he brought in for his ability to catch the ball unlike past tight ends for the Bears, he was acquired for his blocking as well. He has proved effective in that area, as Cutler has only been sacked once.
Chalk that up to the offensive line as well, a unit that allowed the quarterback to be sacked a brutal 38 times last year. That number will drastically decrease this year, as new additions Matt Slauson, Jermon Bushrod and draft picks Jordan Mills and Kyle Long have all stepped in as blocking machines and have done well in these two games, but look for them to get even better as the season progresses.
The offense as a whole has bought in to Trestman and his scheme. The Bears did have to come back from deficits in the first two games, but they have more than enough firepower to quickly nip that issue in the bud and become the high-flying team they know they can be. Going up against a winless Pittsburgh Steelers team, they have the opportunity to do just that.