The problems on offense were the focus going into this offseason, beginning with the firing of Lovie Smith and expanding with the hiring of Marc Trestman as head coach. That intensified again Wednesday when Trestman, noted quarterbacks mentor and offensive coordinator through his 17 years of NFL experience, made his first big hire also on offense and made it in the direction of addressing the offensive line.
Aaron Kromer, an offensive line coach with Northwestern, the Oakland Raiders (where he worked with Trestman in 2002-2003), the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New Orleans Saints (2009-2012), will be Trestmans offensive coordinator, as first reported Wednesday by ESPN.
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Kromer also served as interim head coach through the Saints first six games in 2012 with Sean Payton and Joe Vitt serving suspensions.
Studying the Saints
Despite the upheaval surrounding the staff and organization as a result of the bounty scandal, the Saints were No. 3 in scoring with 28.8 points per game and No. 2 in yardage with 411 per game. By comparison the Bears topped 400 yards just three times all season.
There was little subtle about the New Orleans offense. While young quarterbacks like Robert Griffin III, Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson were fascinating the NFL with read-options, pistols and such, Drew Brees was doing what he always does.
Just throw, baby, of the Saints 1,067 plays, 697 (65.3 percent) were pass play.
Very significantly, however, Brees was sacked just 26 times, or once every 25.8 plays more than twice the rate Jay Cutler and Jason Campbell were going down.
That was being accomplished by scheme, Brees and Kromers offensive line despite losing Pro Bowl guard Carl Nicks through free agency.
Kromer was the Raiders offensive line coach in 2002 when they reached the Super Bowl and then-coordinator Trestman was helping quarterback Rich Gannon have an MVP season.
The Raiders were a passing offense with Gannon throwing on 61.2 percent of the plays that year. He was sacked 36 times, or once every 18 dropbacks.
The most striking aspect of that offense, which was second in the NFL in scoring, was its balanced use of weaponry. Jerry Rice led the Raiders with 92 catches for 1,211 yards and seven touchdowns. But the No. 2 receiver was a running back Charlie Garner who caught 91 passes while he and Tyrone Wheatley were combining for nearly 1,400 yards.
Add to that wide receivers Tim Brown (81) and Jerry Porter (51, nine TDs) and the result was a diversified offense that totaled more than 6,200 yards. No Bears team has ever totaled more than the 5,837 in 1985, one of only two Bears teams managing even 5,800.
While not arrived at the same ways, the new 1-2 structure of Trestman-Kromer is similar to the 2010-2011 Bears alignment on offense of Mike Martz as coordinator and Mike Tice the line coach. Martz did not hire Tice but the combination did produce an 18-8 stretch before Jay Cutler was injured in the 2011 season.