Updated: July 21, 2013 10:10PM
Cornerback Charles Tillman is just trying to get a read on coach Marc Trestman. And he’s learning it will take more than some offseason workouts to do so.
But their disagreements help.
‘‘I’m really just trying to see and understand him as a person and understand where’s he’s coming from,’’ Tillman said. ‘‘And my
observation is that he is a man who has the best interests of the team [in mind]. The decisions that he makes, I might not always agree with them, but it is for the greater good of our team.
‘‘He makes a decision that you don’t seem to agree with or you don’t understand why, and you ask, ‘Well, why did you make this decision, Coach?’ . . . And he’ll give you an explanation. He’ll let you know why he made a particular decision.’’
It’s part of the Trestman way.
There were many things general manager Phil Emery saw in Trestman that made him his choice to replace fired Lovie Smith, but there are still numerous questions with training camp starting this week. How well will Trestman handle a locker room full of players who were loyal to Smith and retired linebacker Brian Urlacher? Can he win them over after being out of the NFL for so long? Will they tune him out if things don’t click
But Trestman, in some ways, has been here before. He walked into a good situation with the Montreal Alouettes in 2008 — the team had talent, a veteran quarterback in Anthony Calvillo going through some personal adversity and a history of success, including a recent Grey Cup appearance — but it wasn’t good enough. The Bears had an 81-63 record under Smith, but they missed the playoffs in five of his last six seasons.
A conversation with Alouettes GM Jim Popp revealed Trestman is doing the same things he did that led to his success in Montreal (three Grey Cup appearances and two titles in five seasons), whether it’s his back-and-forth communication approach, his up-tempo practices or his decision to mix up the Bears’ locker room.
Trestman didn’t set out to change the Alouettes’ culture but to enhance it.
‘‘What I saw more than anything, he kept his style and he listened,’’ Popp said. ‘‘He listened to his own players on what worked and didn’t work. And he wasn’t a know-it-all. That’s huge when you are a head coach — that you’re able to adjust and try to find the right means with your team.’’
That might come on offense first, with Trestman the lead architect.
‘‘One thing that Marc will make sure that’s done is that everything is very meticulously organized,’’ Popp said. ‘‘I mean, every single play — the receiver needs to be here, two yards outside the hash. It doesn’t waver by two yards; it better be precise.
‘‘He put his offensive spin on things. . . . He did a great job of that, and he brought something else to the table where some of the other teams in the [Canadian Football League] weren’t doing that. Teams just didn’t know how to stop us.’’
Popp, a finalist for the New York Jets’ GM job this offseason, said Trestman will leave no doubts about who is in charge.
‘‘He will get someone’s attention real quick just by the look, the stare and the voice inflection,’’ Popp said. ‘‘As calm as his manner seems on the sidelines, when he’s on that headset, he can give it to you. He can give it to somebody when he needs to.
‘‘[Bears] players will realize how smart he is. They’ll realize he knows what he’s doing. And they’ll follow. Wherever they come — whether they’re free agents, draft picks or they’ve been there — in due time, they’ll realize it and start following it that way.’’