LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- For a meticulous planner such as Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman, the slow manner in which the offense continues to evolve appears to be a function of design rather than circumstance.
Running back Matt Forte indicated as much on Wednesday, revealing the offense hasn’t “really shown a whole, whole lot.”
“I don’t expect us to two games into the season,” Forte said. “This is a hefty playbook. We’ve got a lot of games left. So we have a lot of stuff saved for teams that play certain coverages or certain fronts. We have a lot of stuff I would say left over that we ran in camp and gone over. We know the stuff. We just put it back on the shelf so that when it is the opportune time to call it, it’ll be called.”
Facing a winless Pittsburgh Steelers team, which operates out of a 3-4 front, Sunday on the road might present Chicago that opportunity to expand the playbook. In its first two outings, the club played similar zone-reliant 4-3 teams in the Cincinnati Bengals and the Minnesota Vikings.
The opponent this week presents a radically different challenge offensively for the Bears, who will be tasked with unfamiliar blocking schemes in their attempt to neutralize Pittsburgh’s pressure.
“They’re different than what we’re used to facing. They’re coming from everywhere. They do it a lot of different ways. They come from different places,” Trestman said. “They’ve got size at their linebacker. The unusual aspect of having size at their linebacker positions where they’re pass-rushers, they represent matchup issues for our backs, particularly our backs. So we’ve got a formula for picking up blitzes, and things change a little bit with 3-4. But we’ve had a lot of work against it. I spent time on it in our OTAs, a little bit of time at training camp. We played against a 3-4 team in the preseason, which helped. Certainly there’s nothing like going against the Steeler 3-4. It’s very good conceptually. It’s structured.”
Forte generated 161 yards from scrimmage in Week 2 on 30 touches against Minnesota’s zone-heavy scheme, which focuses on taking away explosive plays while allowing for completions on underneath routes.
Pittsburgh plays a more aggressive scheme than Chicago’s first two opponents, and despite the Steelers’ two losses, it’s worth noting their defense ranks No. 10 in total yards allowed. Pittsburgh is one of just three teams (with Kansas City and Seattle) to allow only one touchdown through the air. The Steelers have also limited opposing passers to a completion percentage of 55.4, which ranks as sixth-lowest in the NFL, and they’ve given up just 18 first downs through the air.
So it’s highly likely the Bears unveil concepts this week that they haven’t shown thus far.
"That’s part of what Trestman does,” Forte said. “He’s a genius in this offense. We have a lot of different plays that isolate a lot of different people in this offense. But it depends on what the defense is running (on) when to call them. He’s doing a great job of calling them in the right situations so that we can make a play.”