The focus of the Bears offseason has been on the defensive side of the ball because of all of the issues the team had over there last year but the offense, now in its second year under coach Marc Trestman, should be able to grow and flourish even more.
While the major coaching changes were made to the defensive side of the ball, where Paul Pasqualoni replaced Mike Phair as defensive line coach and Reggie Herring replaced Tim Tibesar at linebackers coach, the Bears also shuffled around some titles on the offensive side of the ball.
Aaron Kromer, who served as the offensive coordinator/offensive line coach in 2013, dropped the slash offensive line coach and his assistant, Pat Meyer, lost the assistant title to become the offensive line coach.
While from the outside this doesn't appear to be much - in fact, the team's official site still lists Kromer as "slash offensive line coach" - this weekend was the first opportunity the media and fans have had to hear how Kromer's role will actually change.
Here is what Trestman himself had to say about it:
"And that's just part of the process and part of the plan after the first year. You know having a guy like Pat with us enabled Aaron to spread his wings, in terms of being able to get around and get out of the box of being a line coach and what all that entails into just growing, and we're excited about that. I'm excited, obviously, to have him and I believe he deserves the opportunity to just move around a little bit more and give more expertise and more growth, because we're always learning. We don't ever think we've got it all in any position we have. So it gives him a chance to grow and gives me a chance to move around a little bit as well, it's all kind of a ripple effect throughout the team.
Aaron's very experienced; number one, he's got championship pedigree. Certainly he's got pedigree and, you know, one of the best offenses that the league has ever seen over a period of time. We know each other well from working together, did an outstanding job last year, in growing our offensive line and being very involved in play selection, as well during the course of the game and handling adjustments. With the advent of Pat, knowing what he can do, he deserves a chance to grow too. That's what you can really do in a second year if you stay on course. That was the plan from the beginning that Aaron would just, he wouldn't leave, I just wouldn't have wanted him to leave New Orleans without, in my mind being able to tell him, and Sean [Payton] for that matter, that he would have an opportunity to grow as a football coach."
Specifically, the Sun-Times' Adam Jahns reports that Kromer will still oversee the run game but will also be more involved with the quarterbacks and receivers.
Here is what Kromer himself had to say:
Last year we had no idea what we would be good at and what each player would do well. We had some idea but not in our systems. So as the year went on, we became more efficient as an offense in the last half of the season than we were in the first half because we started deciding "Hey this is what we're good at, this is what guys like to do, this is what Jay likes to throw and is most efficient." So it's allowed us to narrow our football and really hone in on what we do well. So we're trying to do that and broaden the offense from that specter.
The title is giving Pat Meyer more of an opportunity to have a bigger voice in the offensive line room, and it's also given myself a chance to broaden my horizons and not spend 100 percent of my time with the offensive line when it comes to practice and meeting time. So I'll be able to get out a little bit more but at the same time I want to make sure that I'm on top of what we're doing with the offensive line and (be) really hands on still but able to spread myself out a little bit.
In the video he talks more about players being able to be more into the nuances of the offense this year. Instead of thinking about their specific assignment on a given play, they can think about how to adjust their assignment against a specific player or type of defensive look.
Overall it doesn't sound like the offense will change that much, which is a good thing considering how potent it was last year, and it's even better when fans think about all the different systems that have been in and out of Chicago over the last decade.
The fact is that the offense still runs through Marc Trestman. He calls the plays but Kromer will have more input during the week and still retain oversight of adjustments and such in-game. One of the strongest points of the offense last season, in my opinion, was their ability to make in-game adjustments.
As long as Meyer can remain as good a teacher on the practice field as Kromer was last year with the offensive line, and Kromer is still able to manage the run game for Matt Forte like he did last year, then all will be well on the offensive side of the ball in Chicago.
Kromer is the number one coach Bears fans have to look at as getting a head coaching spot should the team continue its success. That's not a bad thing necessarily, but it does say a lot about how respected he is as an assistant and how important he is in the success of the Bears' offense.
As a fan, for me to not hear the word "change" a lot when it comes to the Bears offense, but words like "broadens" and phrases like "hone in on what we do well", is exciting and shows how much Trestman and Kromer have been able to overhaul a unit that plagued the franchise for so long.