Trestman’s stern test: Readying banged-up Bears for Packers
BY ADAM L. JAHNS Staff Reporter October 28, 2013 10:39PM
Updated: December 1, 2013 7:39AM
A typically positive-thinking Marc Trestman caught himself considering playing without quarterback Jay Cutler and linebacker Lance Briggs last week.
It’s an unenviable position — arguably the most unlucky in the league.
“I try to compartmentalize everything,” the Bears coach said Monday as the team returned to practice after its bye week. “Last week there were a few days going through it thinking we didn’t have them with us and we weren’t going to have them with us for the immediate stretch.”
This week has become a defining one for Trestman in his first season. He is preparing for a team — the hated Green Bay Packers — that has frustratingly handled the Bears the last few seasons and is doing so without two of his most important players.
A victory could possibly propel the Bears down a positive path — one with consecutive home games after the Packers and favorable matchups after that — with high spirits. A loss could send the Bears spiraling out of the playoff race (as many project) with Cutler and Briggs out.
“The focus after [dwelling on the losses of Cutler and Briggs] was simply on us and reviewing our season,” Trestman said. “I spent a lot of time with the coaches over the last three days identifying areas that we’ve got to really work on and work together on.
“It’s not just the defense or the offense or the special teams, but how we can collectively put together the game plan that can help us go move forward and that means next week into Green Bay, although not specifically Green Bay.”
Yet, the divide between the Packers and Bears has only grown the last few seasons. There have been close, dramatic games, but the Packers have won six in a row, including the 2010 NFC Championship Game, and eight of their last nine meetings. The Packers look destined to sit atop the NFC North again.
Trestman was hired to help close that gap by modernizing the offense. If you can recall general manager Phil Emery’s introductory news conference for Trestman — where he detailed his use of tight ends in the Canadian Football League — he also was hired because he can succeed in adverse situations.
“It came down to the best players on their roster were tight ends, so what did Marc do?” Emery said then. “He adapted to the circumstances, he put three tight ends in the game, he moved the ball and he won games. Not only can he adapt to the personnel, he adapts to situations very easily.”
“We’re a team that still has the ability to win football games,” Emery said recently.
To be fair, the Packers would have been a difficult foe for the Bears even if Cutler’s groin wasn’t torn or Briggs’ shoulder wasn’t fractured. Now, it’s more daunting.
Trestman is preparing backup quarterback Josh McCown to start. Rookie Khaseem Greene is poised to take Briggs’ spot on the weak side.
Trestman’s challenge might not only be keeping the Bears competitive, but preventing them from being embarrassed at Lambeau Field on Monday night.
“We really have to play together more than ever now,” Trestman said.