While fans have celebrated the offensive scheme change the Chicago Bears have implemented, count Aaron Rodgers as one who thinks it is a downgrade. In a somewhat recent interview with Pardon My Take, Rodgers went on a tangent about how the West Coast offense — which the Bears ran under Matt Nagy — is better than the scheme Luke Getsy is bringing from Green Bay.
“This scheme has flaws,” Rodgers said. “I grew up in the West Coast offense, which I think is the most beautiful offense ever created. It’s about timing and rhythm and balance and everything makes sense protection wise. You know where your hots are, you know where your eyes are going every single time, you know how the concepts fit together.”
Rodgers was drafted by Mike Sherman, who ran a variation of the West Coast he learned from Mike Holmgren. Mike McCarthy then took over, bringing a version that he learned from one of the scheme’s originators, Paul Hackett. Rodgers offered many complaints about the Shanahan-style outside zone scheme implemented by Matt LaFluer, when he was hired in 2019.
“This is a schematic offense. That (West Coast) was not a schematic offense. That was built on timing and precision and rhythm and guys being in the right spot at the right time and putting the ball on the proper number,” Rodgers said. “(It is) predicated on winning one-on-one matchups and being accurate throwing the football.”
Roughly translated, it sounds like Rodgers prefers the West Coast because it’s more about Jimmy’s and Joe’s than X’s and O’s. He probably has a point.
The West Coast offense is better when teams have the talent to run it, but few do, especially in the salary cap era. That is exactly why the Bears new scheme has taken over the league. It’s hard to find wide receivers and tight ends who can get open on their own, a line that can hold up, running backs who have the necessary versatility and quarterbacks who have the accuracy and anticipation to make it all work. The West Coast can be great when you have a quarterback like Rodgers and wide receivers like Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams. But we even saw Rodgers struggle when the talent around him dropped off.
For the Bears, especially in 2022, the new scheme should be a much better fit. They will use it to help their receivers get open, which should make life easier for Justin Fields. There is a reason Getsy is bringing this scheme to Chicago, not the scheme he coached under McCarthy. (Similarly, Nathaniel Hackett — Paul Hackett’s own son — is going to run the outside zone scheme in Denver.)
Rodgers did admit there were benefits to the outside zone scheme.
“It does put a lot of stress on the defense because you have motion, you have an outside zone look, you have a guy sealing on the back side and off of that we have a run, we have a screen, we have a keeper, we have an action pass,” Rodgers said. “You have so many different looks off of the same stuff. That’s why it works.”
Perhaps, if Fields can reach the level of Rodgers the Bears can stray from the scheme – similarly to how Rodgers does in Green Bay – but for now, it seems that the new scheme will fit the team better.
Other Camp Thoughts
• Justin Fields hasn’t done anything flashy, but he has at least appeared to be in control. The jitters he sometimes showed as a rookie seem gone. Even when a play breaks down, he has been quick to find his check down.
• If the Bears can continue to get Cole Kmet in space, he is going to become a dangerous weapon. Kmet’s biggest flaw is that he is stiff, which makes it difficult for him to get open against good defenders, but he has good speed and is tough to tackle.
• Khalil Herbert is going to end up losing a lot of snaps to Trestan Ebner if he doesn’t improve in the passing game. In the first preseason game, Herbert looked like he was fighting passes thrown his way. Last week, he missed a block, which destroyed a play that was designed for the team to take a shot down the field.
• Teven Jenkins excelling at guard is the best-case scenario for the Bears offensive line. So far, so good for Jenkins as it took just one practice for him to beat out Michael Schofield for the starting job. That probably is more about Schofield than it is about Jenkins, but the second-year player has the ideal physical skills, mentality and – according to the coaches – smarts for the position.
• The increased effort under coach Matt Eberflus has been obvious. The games don’t count yet, but it’s hard not to be impressed by the new coach.