Ready or not, the Bears are going to run the ball. It sounds great, but Turner’s previous stint in Chicago as offensive coordinator (1993-96) left with him passing more than not.
It appears he’s slightly altered that philosophy over the past eight years.
“I think it starts with the running game, no matter what level you’re talking about, but probably especially at this level you’ve got to be able to run the football,” Turner said. “And if you can run the football, that opens up so many things in the controlled-passing game, the play-action passing game and a lot of other things. That’s really a philosophy that I’ve had for a long time.”
Since firing Terry Shea, Lovie Smith has stressed wanting the offense to be centered around the running game and from the beginning knew who he wanted to be the team’s next offensive coordinator.
“Ron was the first guy and the only guy really that I talked to,” Smith said. “I feel real good about what I think he’ll be able to bring to us and today we’re taking another step in the right direction to achieve goals that we set for the following year. We’re really excited.”
Turner remains politically correct when he talks about the amount of talent the Bears have on the roster.
“I think you always have to have playmakers. There's no doubt. I think there are some playmakers here. And that's going to be our jobs to find out what they can do, to maximize their strengths, minimize their weaknesses and put them in a position to make plays,” Turner said.
When pressed to name the playmakers on offense, Turner responded with in a manner that didn’t instill confidence.
“Well I think it's hard to tell,” he said.
Turner eventually mentioned David Terrell, but was vague in his response.
While it’s obvious the Bears need a talent upgrade at several positions, Turner is keeping a sense of humor about an offense that ranked dead last in total offense, points, third down percentage and set team records for sacks allowed (66) and penalties (124). The team had more lost fumbles (21) than offensive touchdowns (19).
“I’ve been guaranteed that the first pick’s an offensive guy and I get to make that call,” Turner said jokingly.
The next step will be to get a playbook put together as soon as possible, so the team can start learning the terminology of the offense. Turner will also focus on developing Rex Grossman.
“Rex will fit in real well with what we’re trying to do,” Turner said. “I saw him a lot at Florida; I’ve seen him a lot since he’s been here. I like the way he plays, I think his style’s going to fit into what we want to do and I think he’s got the intangibles from what I see to be a really good player.”
Turner will also be brining a familiar face with him to the Bears. Harry Hiestand, who spent the past seven years with Turner at Illinois as offensive line coach, has been hired to replace Pete Hoener.
“I’m also really excited about hiring Harry Hiestand as our offensive line coach,” Smith said. “We got Ron … to be able to get a guy that’s been able to work with him for the last seven years is also big as we put in a new offensive system.”
Hiestand will be able to help with the installation the offense, as well as implementing the protection schemes.
“You can’t come in and throw the whole playbook at them and say here, learn this and let’s go,” Turner said. “It’s a progression, we’ve got to start with the formations, the line calls, protections and things like that and then progress forward and he’s got a real good understanding of what this offense is all about and how to do that.”