November 23, 2014
ORLANDO, Fla. — An informal breakfast with media during the NFL owners meetings this week provided coach Marc Trestman with the opportunity to reflect on taking over a Bears team that was run by Lovie Smith for nine seasons.
There were no signs of regret.
“Obviously, there was change,” Trestman said. “[But] I don’t think there was an overhaul culturally. I let the guys know from the beginning that they had drafted and put together a really good locker room.
“We had good guys who had already had success. Lovie did a good job, and I always made sure that they knew I respected that because I did.”
Trestman described the players as compliant with all the changes. But he acknowledged that there were many questions along the way.
“I don’t think the changes were dramatic, but as we moved on through the offseason and through training camp, I never thought there was any kind of strong resistance,” Trestman said.
“There were questions, and I tried to answer them because players deserve to know why we’re doing certain things, and I gave them the reasons.”
Hearing great things
Trestman knows and appreciates the havoc defensive end Jared Allen can create, but he doesn’t know Allen personally.
He has heard great things about him, though.
“I know people in the Vikings organization that have already contacted us, telling us what a good person and what a great teammate he’s been,” Trestman said. “And [how he was] a great part of the Viking tradition over [the six] years he’s been with the team and [how he’s] one of the favorite players they’ve had there in the last 20 years. It’s exciting to hear that.”
Lovie lucks out
Every team in the NFC North will get to face Smith and his new-look Buccaneers this season. And Smith feels blessed for it.
“It’s good,” Smith said at the owners meetings. “I know that division better than any other. We feel like we know the division, the personnel, which should help us.”
But Smith, as he’s known to do, quickly squashed the additional story lines.
“I know I used to be the head coach at Chicago, but that’s one of the 16 games we’re going to play next year,” Smith said. “It’s as simple as that.”
Former Canadian Football League star returner Chris Williams is in the mix to replace Devin Hester on special teams and also will get looks at receiver. Trestman, though, expects a transition period as Williams gets accustomed to the NFL’s smaller field of play.
In 2012 with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Williams set a CFL record with six punt-return touchdowns. He also had 83 receptions for 1,298 yards and 11 touchdowns that season.
“It will be interesting to see how this translates,” said Trestman, who faced Williams with the Montreal Alouettes. “We know he’s a tough young man. We know he’s got good speed. He was a difference-making player up there.”