Greg Olsen on his way to scoring a first-quarter touchdown against Dallas. (Nuccio DiNuzzo/Tribune)
By Brad Biggs
Besides the new playbook, what's the big difference in the Bears' offense this season?
After two games, they've averaging 385.5 yards per game, fifth in the NFL and putting them in a class with juggernauts like Houston and Indianapolis.
It's pretty much the same personnel, with a few additions here and there for new coordinator Mike Martz. Is it as simple as the offensive players buying into the system more than they ever did with former play-caller Ron Turner?
"I think we did have trust last year," tight end Greg Olsen said. "I think a lot of factors went into why we weren't successful. Things kind of steamrolled on us a little bit and once that happens it just got kind of out of hands and we weren't able to get everything stopped, and I don't think it had to do with so much of our trust in what we were doing.
"I think we felt confident each week going out but this year I think everyone wholeheartedly, 100 percent has bought in months ago. I think when (Martz) got here and implemented this offense in the offseason, I think guys right away said, 'Wow, there's a lot going on here.' There's so many opportunities that he's going to put us in to be successful, and across the board, for all positions, everybody included.
"As we went through, there were stages, the offseason, the OTAs and stuff was kind of just a building block and then training camp and the preseason and now we're in the first part of the regular season so we have to continue to build each week. We got better from Week 1 to Week 2, now we have to get better and build upon Week 2 and that's kind of our process through the whole season is to continue to get better as the season progresses."
The Bears typically were in or near the bottom-third of the league under Turner. The challenge for Martz wasn't going to be to catapult the Bears into the top five, but get them near the top 10 with improvements expected on defense.
There is still work to do. The Bears are 28th in the NFL in rushing and are averaging 2.8 yards per carry. It's not about running the ball more, but running the ball more effectively.
"I think it makes the passing game that much better, more effective," running back Matt Forte said. "It's important to get it going. Short passes and things like that can be considered as a run also. But the running game is really important actually to get going so we can throw more down the field type balls."