October 25, 2014
In a nearly seven-minute opening monologue reviewing his first loss as the coach, Marc Trestman accentuated the positive Monday at Halas Hall — that’s his right — but also gave every indication he saw the same game we did.
Mistakes in both execution and judgment were acknowledged and explained. Responsibility was taken. And Trestman even provided bonus information: The Lions had more than 100 yards rushing on missed tackles. And a headset malfunction cost the Bears a play on their first drive of the game.
And one more thing: a sense of humor.
‘‘So that will really pretty much cover it,’’ Trestman said, wrapping up his review. ‘‘If there are no questions ...’’
Of course there were questions and Trestman was ready for them. He told us why Jay Cutler played so poorly; why Michael Bush played only two snaps; why Eben Britton was used as an extra blocker (because Martellus Bennett’s shoulder is still sore). He told us what his trainer told him about Charles Tillman’s injury status. He said the Bears miss Henry Melton, tacitly acknowledging that Melton is better than Nate Collins and Landon Cohen.
Reality and substance — what a concept. Maybe it’s unfair to compare Trestman’s honeymoon period to the last days of Lovie Smith. But all indications are that Trestman won’t change much when the heat gets turned up.
Playoff appearances will determine Trestman’s fate, but the difference is refreshing. Smith engendered a negative relationship with the media that Bears fans picked up on. Every critique was an insult; every critic a ‘‘hater’’; every critical line of questioning an inquisition. It made even the good times difficult to bear at Halas Hall.
‘‘The deal with the media, in my opinion, is you can’t ever lose your dignity,’’ Trestman said. ‘‘You know people are not going to see it the way you see it and tell you their opinion. There’s going to be mean-spirited criticism out there as well good criticism. I just stay focused on what I’m really here to do and that’s serve the team. As long as I stay present that way, the rest is just part of the job.’’
Dealing with the media is not a high priority.
‘‘I don’t spend a lot of time on the media side,’’ he said. ‘‘I know the media’s important and it’s a highly competitive market here. I know people are reading and listening. Everybody’s going to have their own points of view, which I can’t control. So I don’t really spend a lot of time thinking about it.
When he’s not dealing with the media personally, Trestman is insulated from published reports and commentary. He gets most of his information from Bears vice president of communications Scott Hagel and general manager Phil Emery. ‘‘I’m on a need-to-know basis,’’ he said.
This is the biggest spotlight of Trestman’s career. But he doesn’t feel the scrutiny makes his job more difficult.
‘‘When I’m at a press conference ... I’ve got a job to do and that’s to be as truthful as I can with the media, without giving away information that can hurt the team,’’ Trestman said.
He has been winning press conferences with regularity since becoming the coach. But not because he’s trying to. You can feel the difference.
‘‘I can’t speak to what’s happened before,’’ Trestman said. ‘‘The most important thing is to show up every day and help our players get better and the team be successful on Sundays. I don’t look at anything bigger than that. I recognize how big [the media interest] is. I understand that. But I try not to focus my energy on that.’’
New Orleans Saints quart-erback Drew Brees might not admit it, but he must be looking forward to coming to Chicago in October for a change.
The prolific Brees is sixth on the all-time list with 47,353 passing yards with 334 touchdowns. He’s 108-74 as a starter with a 94.5 passer rating (seventh on the all-time list). But in four games at Soldier Field, he’s 0-4 with a 71.3 rating.
The defense gets some of the credit. But Bear weather — generally a myth — also has played a part in containing an offense more used to the environs of the Superdome. Brees’ last three games at Soldier Field have been in wintry conditions: in the NFC Championship in January of 2007 (13-degree wind chill, light snow); in December of 2007 (24-degree wind chill); and in December of 2008 (18-degree wind chill, with gusts up to 26 mph).
It makes a difference.
In the Superdome in 2011, Brees threw for 270 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions for a 118.1 rating in a 30-13 victory.
Brees has thrown for 300 or more yards in nine consecutive games — tying his own record set in 2011.
He has thrown 10 touchdowns and four interceptions this season for a 103.5 passer rating — fifth in the NFL.
Was Jay Cutler’s poor performance in the 40-32 loss to the Lions on Sunday just a matter of fixable mechanics and techniques?
But Marc Trestman’s history of fixing quarterbacks is well-earned. In fact, Trestman faced a similar challenge in his first season with the Montreal Alouettes in 2008 when quarterback Anthony Calvillo had his first dreadful game under Trestman in a 41-30 loss to the Calgary Stampeders.
Calvillo was on an MVP pace in a contract year when he threw a season-high three interceptions and completed a season-low 55 percent of his passes (22 of 40). He only finished with 309 passing yards and two touchdowns because of a fourth-quarter flurry in garbage time, when the Alouettes scored 20 points to account for a deceiving final score. Sound familiar?
How Trestman, Calvillo and the Alouettes responded would define their season. In their next game, against the 7-4 Edmonton Eskimos, Calvillo completed 31 of 38 passes (81.6 percent) for 414 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in a 40-4 rout. The Alouettes scored on their first six possessions.
It was the start of a big finish that carried the Alouettes to the Grey Cup. The Alouettes averaged 40 points in winning four of their next five. Calvillo completed 77 percent of his passes and averaged 377 yards in that span, with 16 touchdowns and four interceptions. He was named the league’s MVP.
Cutler might not take that kind of quantum leap. But Trestman is confident he’ll be better than he was against the Lions.
‘‘There are plays [he missed] that we’ve seen him make the last three weeks and they just didn’t happen,’’ Trestman said.‘‘I’m hopeful that we’ll make the corrections and move forward and I believe we will.’’
Punter Adam Podlesh (left) set the Bears’ record for net average with 40.4 in 2011. His 39.4-yard net last year is second best in franchise history.
But you’re only as good as your last game, so it was no surprise that the Bears brought in six punters for a tryout Tuesday after Podlesh averaged 40.2 gross yards and 28.8 net yards in Sunday’s 40-32 loss to the Lions. Podlesh ranks 26th in net punt average (38.5) and 28th in gross average (43.5).
League sources confirmed that Chris Kluwe, Brian Moorman, Mat McBriar, Drew Butler, Tress Way and T.J. Conley worked out at Halas Hall.
The Bears are unlikely to make a change, but the timing isn’t a coincidence. Last year they brought in punters for a tryout after Podlesh had back-to-back subpar weeks against the Titans (31.7 net yards) and Texans (38.8).
He responded by averaging 43.0, 43.3 and 41.2 net yards in the next three weeks.
The coverage teams, which include three rookies, share some of the blame for Podlesh’s troubles after allowing a 57-yard return by the Lions’ Micheal Spurlock on Sunday. Last year, the Bears did not allow a punt return longer than 17 yards.