Marc Trestman and staff are clear on the need for practice reps to master plays in the new system. But they also are willing to sacrifice a snap or two for a greater good via a sort of “guilt” system that uses peer pressure to clean up a sore problem with too many recent Bears offenses.
If there is a pre-snap penalty, an offensive lineman offsides or false-starting, the offender can be sent off the field. Or, worse, the play is lost (as it would be in a game) and the offense simply goes on to the next play. The NFL does not give do-over’s and neither is Trestman.
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The immediate message is that you have just set the entire offense back and that has consequences. The Bears are learning accountability in practice.
“You jump offsides, you get off the field,” Garza said. “Or we go to the next play. So there’s a big emphasis on knowing what to do, and you don’t want to be a detriment to your team.
“Because you lose that rep, you’re hurting the whole team. We’ve had some but you do not want to be the guy who loses five yards.”
Early results suggest that the practice point is getting through. The No. 1 offensive line as currently constituted – tackles Jermon Bushrod and Jordan Mills; guards Kyle Long and Matt Slauson; center Roberto Garza – has incurred one penalty through its work so far. No maddening pre-snap mess-ups.
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Mills was flagged for holding late in the fourth quarter at Carolina, a first NFL game in which he and Long played a team-high 53 snaps. Game 1 starter James Brown was called for holding in the second quarter while with the second unit, where he is now. Backup center Edwin Williams has the O-line’s only false start.
“I feel that in the first game I came out a little antsy,” Brown said. “I didn’t play like I wanted to, like I had been in practice. Coaches aren’t going to put you in until you’re ready.”