Some Bears never really accepted new coaching regime
BY ADAM L. JAHNS Staff Reporter December 31, 2013 10:33PM
Updated: February 3, 2014 3:47PM
Coach Marc Trestman’s final message of the 2013 season to his first Bears team wasn’t going to be recited to the public by the players. But receiver Brandon Marshall did provide a glimpse.
“I felt a lot of disappointment in the locker room, from coaches and players, but every guy is different,” Marshall said. “And like Coach Trestman said [Monday], some guys will get over it quicker than others. And the way guys deal with that, whether it’s work harder or work smarter, it’s on them.”
As much as Trestman tried, whether it was reorganizing the locker room or his life-lessons approach to football, it always was on the players to get on board with his new way of life at Halas Hall after he replaced longtime coach Lovie Smith, who was beloved by many Bears players who were held over.
In the end, some players may have never been able to adjust and find contentment in all the changes going on. It was the first story of training camp when quarterback Jay Cutler said, “Not everybody’s bought in,” and remains one at season’s end.
The Lovie lovers may have remained just that no matter how Trestman’s first season played out and regardless of how many of their teammates got in line with their new coach.
“[Trestman’s] different,” special-teams leader Blake Costanzo said when asked about how the transition went from Smith to Trestman with the 2013 season now complete. “He’s a different kind of a guy. He does things differently. It is what it is. Some guys gravitated towards it. Some guys, maybe, it takes longer. But he’s just different. I guess it takes a little while to kind of get his way of doing things under wraps here.”
Did some players just have tough times with the change?
“Yeah, I mean you can’t reach everyone as a head coach,” Costanzo said. “But yeah, it is what it is. I definitely think that we could have achieved a lot more this season and I know we’re all disappointed in it, especially with the locker room that we had and the players that we had. He can’t get better players than we have in this locker room, so we’re upset. We underachieved, man. It’s as simple as that. And obviously this locker room is going to be different next year. Hopefully, everyone can move on and have a better year next year.”
Safety Major Wright called the season “a change” but a “pretty good” one. Special-teamer Craig Steltz didn’t think the transition from Smith to Trestman was a significant factor to overcome, saying he felt “the guys bought into the system.”
But that “system” still may not be for everyone. Not everyone will be like kicker Robbie Gould who said he believes “we’ve got something special here.”
With general manager Phil Emery entering his third offseason in charge and Trestman overseeing his second, the Bears will be overhauled to their likings in the next few months. And that’s especially true on defense where Wright, cornerbacks Charles Tillman, Tim Jennings and Zack Bowman, defensive linemen Henry Melton, Corey Wootton, Nate Collins and Jeremiah Ratliff and linebackers James Anderson and D.J. Williams all need new deals.
Rooting out dissent and determining players commitment to the Bears’ new approach will be as important as signing the best, most capable players.
If anything, Trestman has made believers out of everyone involved on offense. A record-setting season will do that.
“[Trestman] did a great job bringing this team together,” center Roberto Garza said. “There were a lot of changes and bringing the locker room together, believing in each other and playing for each other, I think it was a great message and a great way to build this team.”