The first thing everybody has to remember is that it doesn’t mean anything. It’s unlikely that history will look back on a May minicamp as a springboard to the Super Bowl or a trapdoor to the kind of season that could get general manager Jerry Angelo and coach Lovie Smith fired.
It will be interesting, however, to see the new coaches and players acquired to resurrect the Bears on the field at the same time when a mandatory minicamp opens Friday morning with the first of two practices. Two-a-days continue Saturday before the full-team workouts end after a lone practice Sunday.
All workouts at Halas Hall are open to the media but not the public. Here are four thoughts heading into a weekend of football in May:
STEP INTO MY LABORATORY
Jay Cutler said all the right things about Mike Martz during a Tuesday radio interview. The Bears new offensive coordinator has openly gushed about Cutler’s physical skills and mental prowess.
What form their relationship takes, however, remains to be seen.
It’s the most important relationship in the Bears organization and one that will be highly scrutinized. The pair have been working together at Halas Hall of late, so it’s not as if this will be the first time Cutler will be taking instruction from Martz, but it could be insightful nonetheless.
Martz has been working on the most basic mechanics and fundamentals and can be extremely demanding, as everybody knows. How will Cutler handle any criticism? This week’s snapshot will be a pilot episode for what looks to be an entertaining, season-long drama.
THE BIG THREE BEARS
It will take seeing Julius Peppers in a Bears’ uniform to drive home the point that he is a member of the team.
With the prized free agent, along with Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs, the Bears will have three potential Hall of Famers in their defensive huddle.
But are there enough complimentary pieces for this defense to return to being one of the most dominant units in the league?
The focus will be on the Big Three, but whether Marcus Harrison is in shape could be a critical factor. The Bears need him to play as well at the beginning of this season as he played at the end of last season. How motivated and mobile Tommie Harris is and whether redshirt freshmen Henry Melton and Jarron Gilbert have made the most of their rookie seasons will be worth watching, as well.
The last time we saw Brian Urlacher through his facemask was in a deflating season-opening loss to the Packers. That’s when he sustained the wrist injury that knocked him out for the season.
Now he’s back, and supposedly healthy for the first time since the Super Bowl season in 2006.
Everyone insists that he remains the team’s unquestioned leader, and that’s probably so, but much has changed since he made his last defensive play call.
Cutler has become the team’s lightning rod. Is Peppers a leader or someone who needs to be led? Can Urlacher help coax a resurgent season out of Harris? If Urlacher remains the Bears’ unquestioned leader, he should have a lot on his mind as these new and old defensive parts begin fitting together for the first time.
OLSEN QUESTIONS REMAIN VALID
Martz is already tiring of questions about how Greg Olsen fits into the offense, as legitimate as they may be.
Here’s one that’s more pertinent: Can Olsen be a dominant tight end in any system? The jury is still out.
Martz could make him the focal point of the offense and it still won’t help him break a tackle or stand up a defensive end. Olsen is entering his fourth full season and has a lot to prove not only as a pass catcher but as a blocker because Martz has made it clear that he must succeed with his hand on the ground before he will get his hands on the ball.
As for Martz, he can talk about how his offense is flexible enough to accommodate Olsen, but his track record doesn’t support that claim. Olsen’s role remains an issue until proven otherwise.