The first full week of training camp is in the books, and it was unfortunately a rather chaotic week, at least as far as how fans and media responded to what they saw. It’s been up and down for the offense, which is exactly what you should have been expecting. It’s a new offensive scheme from a new coaching regime with a slew of new faces including three potential starting offensive linemen and every wide receiver except Darnell Mooney.
The highs have been really high, like Justin Fields shredding the starting defense and completing 100% of his passes in a couple team drills on Saturday, or the offense scoring touchdown after touchdown after touchdown in goal line on Monday.
Likewise, the lows have been real damn low. The offense went three-and-out on two consecutive two-minute drills on Monday, for instance. Fields has had some passes get away from him when they should have been easy completions.
So what are we to take away from training camp so far? Nothing. Honestly, nothing whatsoever. It’s training camp. Twenty years ago no one even knew what was going on at camp unless they actually attended the practices. But much like other areas of life with the advent of social media, people get overly fixated on small things and wildly exaggerate.
As aforementioned, this is a new offensive scheme. The coaches are all new. Several of the starters are new. Compounding problems, the offensive line has been in constant flux as Matt Eberflus tries to find just the right combination to get the best five offensive linemen out there (plus the unfortunate injury to Lucas Patrick last week). As we all know, the offensive line functions best as a unit, five fingers forming one fist. Even if you don’t have one particular standout on the line, if you have five competent players who function well together as a unit, your offensive line will be among the league’s best.
Now, it looks like the starting five for the line are beginning to be set in stone. Following current trends, it looks like the starting offensive line will be, from left to right: Braxton Jones, Cody Whitehair, Lucas Patrick (when he comes back from injury), Michael Schofield, and Riley Reiff. And my honest impression of that line is that it’s not bad. A clear improvement from last year. And once these guys start getting more reps together as the starters, they’re going to become more cohesive and will make each other better.
Which is good, because I think the breakdown on the offensive line is the largest contributing factor to the offense’s struggles so far in camp. But luckily those breakdowns should slow down and, ideally, cease altogether once the starting five are crowned and develop better chemistry.
In closing, the main point I want to stress is that no one should be losing sleep over how a new offense is performing in the first week of August. We’ve got a long way to go before they take the field against an opponent in a meaningful game, and a lot will change before then. I’m not saying this will become a juggernaut offense to rival the 2013 Broncos. But I do believe that this will be a league-average, competent offense, which would be a tremendous upgrade from anything we’ve seen in the last few years.
Combine a competent offense with a defense and special teams that should both rank in the Top 10, plus a much easier schedule than last year, and I think the Bears will be a fun team to watch this year!