QB whisperer Marc Trestman expediting Bears’ play-calling
BY ADAM L. JAHNS Staff Reporter August 11, 2013 9:02PM
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Updated: August 12, 2013 4:16PM
BOURBONNAIS — Practice was over Sunday. Some linebackers went through extra drills, offensive lineman Eben Britton practiced shotgun snaps and other players met screaming fans for autographs.
But the quarterbacks ran from sideline to sideline. And their coach ran with them.
‘‘It’s just who he is,’’ third-string quarterback Matt Blanchard said of Marc Trestman.
Their run came a couple of days after Jay Cutler, Josh McCown and Blanchard experienced how Trestman runs a game. Just as Trestman ran with them after practice, the Bears’ quarterbacks now know he’s there every step of the way. The so-called quarterback whisperer is literally “whispering” in their ear.
“It was really good,” said Blanchard, who played the entire second half of the preseason opener Friday against the Carolina Panthers. “He’s a really good communicator. He’s in your ear giving you tips right before the play. He’s just really good about getting you the play call as soon as possible so that you can get to the line of scrimmage and manage the game.”
That’s essential to the Trestman way. A big issue for the Bears last season was their peculiar play-calling system. Offensive coordinator Mike Tice gave the play to quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates, who then relayed it to Cutler. It slowed down the offense, resulted in unnecessary timeouts and led to penalties.
Now the calls come instantly. Cutler said Friday that Trestman “was in my ear as soon as the ball was down.”
“You’ve got to because they’re longer calls,” McCown said. “But it seems like [Trestman has] played out the game in his mind and he knows what he wants next.”
On the sideline, Blanchard said that the quarterbacks go over pictures with position coach Matt Cavanaugh, but that Trestman remains very involved by talking to Cavanaugh. That in itself is a big difference, considering former coach Lovie Smith was thoroughly involved with the defense.
“It was neat to see from his standpoint bouncing between getting ready to be a play-caller but also wearing the head-coach hat,” McCown said. “He was communicating his plays with us clear and concise. He did a great job. The quarterbacks were talking about it. We were really impressed.”
Of course, Trestman’s calls aren’t a singular play. They come with options.
“You feel like you’re not going to be handcuffed at the line,” McCown said. “You’re not sitting there like, ‘Man, I’ve got a bad play. I don’t know what I’m going to do with the ball.’ It’s great to have the flexibility that we do at the line of scrimmage.”
McCown, an 11-year veteran, said Trestman’s poise resonated with him, especially considering it was his first game as an NFL head coach.
“He does a great job of communicating and dropping a little tidbit of head’s up for this, head’s up for that,” McCown said. “His poise to remember all those tips when you have a big ol’ call sheet and every call has a little tip but it’s not written down, he’s got to remember [them]. That was really, really cool.”
The next step is actual game-planning. Trestman said the first 15 plays against the Panthers were scripted “to give the guys an idea of what was coming.”
But one thing is for sure: Everything will be clearly communicated. On their red-eye flight after the game, Trestman huddled with his quarterbacks to talk about how they can improve their play-calling process.
“It was good, positive feedback,” Trestman said. “I certainly feel that I can get better and we can do things to help them more as we move along.”