Rookies Bostic, Long learning fast under Tucker, Kromer
BY MARK POTASH email@example.com August 5, 2013 8:10PM
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Updated: August 6, 2013 6:42PM
BOURBONNAIS — With eyebrow-raising draft picks and an unconventional coaching hire, general manager Phil Emery’s grand plan to get the Bears to reach their unfulfilled potential is crystal-clear: acquire players who learn well and hire coaches who teach well.
It’s the key to the Bears’ success under Emery, and while it’s easier said than done, he at least has the right ingredients. First-year coach Marc Trestman came to Chicago with a reputation for getting the most out of his players by teaching them — he has a knack for getting through to players.
And he hired a staff with similar strengths. It worked with the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL when Trestman inherited an 8-10 team and reached the Grey Cup in his first season in 2008 with few significant upgrades. Two areas of improvement stood out as hallmarks of Trestman’s impact: The Alouettes went from last in the CFL in sacks allowed in 2007 (68) to first in 2008 (22), and they went from having the second-most penalties in the league (218) to the fewest (124).
‘‘I feel like our entire staff on both sides of the ball, we’re all teachers first,’’ defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said. ‘‘I’ve always been taught that your job as a coach is to teach, motivate and develop. That’s pretty much why we’re here. You’ve got to find a way to get through to guys.
‘‘And it’s not the same approach with every player. That’s where those authentic relationships and getting to know guys and understand how they learn [come into play]. Some guys learn by seeing it. Some guys learn by doing it. Some guys learn on the blackboard. Or video. Sometimes it’s a combination. You really have to know your players.’’
While there’s no arguing with the results in Montreal, where Trestman won two Grey Cups in his first three seasons, it remains to be seen what will happen in the NFL, where Jared Allen or Aaron Rodgers or Adrian Peterson can foil the most meticulously scripted game plans.
That’s where the players come in. Much of the focus will be on veterans Trestman inherited from Lovie Smith. But two rookies, drafted specifically for this coaching staff, bear watching as early litmus tests of the Emery/Trestman game plan: guard Kyle Long and linebacker Jon Bostic.
Both are getting opportunities to make an impact this season. Long, 25, the Bears’ first-round pick (20th overall), is battling James Brown to start at right guard; Bostic, 22, a second-round pick, is the first-team middle linebacker with D.J. Williams out indefinitely with a calf injury.
How quickly each of them plays is dependent on how quickly they learn. And the early returns are favorable.
Long said he learned more in a week of Bears camp than in his life, except for cramming for final exams as a senior at Oregon.
‘‘This is the most advanced learning curve I’ve ever been a part of,’’ he said. ‘‘I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m here to learn and be a better player. I’m a student of the game.’’
Long is the pet project of offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer, an offensive-line coach who turned mid-round picks into Pro Bowl players with the Saints.
‘‘Kromer does such a good job with trying to simplify things and really pound away at technique,’’ Long said. ‘‘It’s a technical game, and he wants us to be technicians. He leaves no stone unturned.’’
Like Long, Bostic has a lot to learn but already is learning quickly and ‘‘getting better and better every day,’’ Tucker said.