MORRISSEY: Marc Trestman’s candor unique, educational — and rare
BY RICK MORRISSEY email@example.com | @MorrisseyCST September 17, 2013 9:52PM
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It’s early. If it were any earlier, debris from the Big Bang would be hitting us.
But forget about that for a second. Let’s talk about the fresh air blowing through Halas Hall these days, thanks to new Bears coach Marc Trestman. It’s not too early to give a nod of appreciation to someone who seems to get it, both on and off the field. The 2-0 record is nice and perhaps even real. But more impressive so far is Trestman’s solid foundation, built on years of experience — or to be more precise, years of experiences.
Only someone comfortable with himself would have the confidence to carry on as Trestman has in his first season leading an NFL team. He’s not worried about how other coaches do things and doesn’t seem beholden to groupthink. He has seen a lot in his 57 years and come to his own conclusions. That much is clear.
He’s not afraid to tell fans and media why he made a certain decision and why it did or didn’t work. He doesn’t seem to be concerned about covering his butt. If he’s giving away state secrets, it appears to be news to him. He doesn’t shield his players when it’s obvious who made a mistake. In other words, he treats the viewing audience like adults. Imagine that.
Here’s what Trestman said about Jay Cutler’s fumble, which the Vikings returned for a touchdown Sunday:
“I think Jay would be the first one to tell you he’s got to do a better job of taking care of the football and recognizing blind-side pursuit in that situation. Because we ran a play which we thought, ‘It’s third-and-(nine), we’re in field-goal range, let’s get three [points] first.’ If we get more than three, that’s a good thing. But let’s come out of it with an incompletion [in the worst scenario], which we certainly could have had. Or a short gain. Or a big gain on the screen.”
Not, “Jay is our quarterback,’’ or “It’s not just on Jay, it’s on all of us.’’
Instead, an explanation.
Why is that so hard for so many NFL coaches? Trestman also mentioned that the Bears “didn’t get exactly the directional kick we wanted’’ from Robbie Gould on Cordarrelle Patterson’s 105-yard kickoff return and that wide receiver Brandon Marshall should have come back to the ball on a Cutler pass the Vikings intercepted. That’s not “calling out players.’’ It’s not even holding players accountable. It’s speaking the plain truth.
Are we simply seeing the good side of a coach while he’s winning? Is the bad side lurking? Could be, but I don’t think so. Trestman has been the same way since general manager Phil Emery hired him in January.
Consider this an experiment in openness. Let’s see if the world stops rotating on its axis if the coach continues to be honest. And let’s see if anything is lost — a play, a game, the American way of life — because of his candor and directness.
I don’t want to paint the wrong picture here. It’s not as if Trestman is giving away the Bears’ playbook with his truthfulness. It’s that he talks to you and me the way most of us would talk with each other. Without condescension.
I want this to work. I make no secret of that. Not because of Trestman but because of the way he goes about his job. I’d like to see the approach spread. I’d like to see sanity win out. The product is better this way for everybody. By the time he’s done, Bears fans might be the best-educated fans in the league.
Will he change? Will ownership or management impress upon him that he’s too open? That would be a shame.
If Trestman turns out to be the leader the Bears think he is, the question around the league will be why it took so long for someone to give him a chance as a head coach. Maybe it’s because he comes across as too cerebral. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t seem to be wired like a landmine, as so many coaches are.
Trestman started his Monday press gathering with, “Let me just hit you on a couple of things that stood out to me when watching the tape — some of the good and some of the bad.’’
Did he say, “some of the bad?’’ Under the previous regime, that kind of talk would have sent comrade Trestman to a gulag.