Even Marc Trestman doesn’t know what kind of team Bears are
BY MARK POTASH Staff Reporter November 23, 2013 1:56AM
FILE - In this Oct. 20, 2013 file photo, Chicago Bears quarterback Josh McCown talks with head coach Marc Trestman during an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins in Landover, Md. During the game, McCown led the Bears to a 24-point second half when pressed into service to replace injured Jay Cutler, but he had no preparation time in that one. Now, after a couple weeks to get ready to face the Green Bay Packers on Monday, Nov. 4, McCown expects to be ready to produce against a defense that has always given Cutler fits. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon File)
Updated: November 24, 2013 11:56AM
ST. LOUIS — Are the Bears getting anywhere?
At this point last season, they were 7-3 but heading downhill under Lovie Smith. Now they’re 6-4 with Jay Cutler, Lance Briggs, Henry Melton and Charles Tillman on the sidelines, and not even coach Marc Trestman knows which direction they’re headed.
‘‘I look at our team as whatever [we were] on Sunday,’’ Trestman said. ‘‘We’re a team that’s resilient. We’re a team that can focus. We’re a team that has got a backbone to play in tough games. That’s what we were last week.
‘‘But we also were a team that was undisciplined in terms of penalties and a team . . . that didn’t score in the red zone. That’s how I define our team. It’s who we are based on that game.’’
We know Trestman doesn’t see things the way the rest of us do. He doesn’t see the big picture because, to him, it doesn’t exist.
‘‘It’s hard for me to deal in all-encompassing statements,’’ he said. ‘‘Are we getting better? I don’t know. We can say we’ve ascended, and then we have  penalties. Progress is really relative to the last game.’’
The focus this week against the Rams is focus. Against the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens last week, the Bears were very un-Trestman-like in two areas that likely would have been lethal if not for Mother Nature. They were discombobulated in their first-quarter series and had a season-high 13 penalties.
Both were areas of improvement from the Smith era but failed them in Week 11. The Bears had two botched plays and a bad shotgun snap on their first series. They gained 23 yards on their first 11 plays. They came into the game leading the NFL in first-quarter scoring (72 points) but failed to score in the first quarter for only the second time this season.
The penalties also were evidence of a lack of the focus Trestman previously had instilled in his first Bears team. The Bears entered the game with 40 penalties. They were called for 15 against the Ravens, with 13 accepted for 111 yards.
Is that a sign that after three months of being totally locked into Trestman and his staff, the Bears are mentally drained and losing their focus? Or is it just an aberration, as Trestman presumed last week?
We’ll find out against the Rams — and right from the start. The Bears are playing on the road and in a dome, but they are going against a team they should beat if they have true playoff aspirations.
The Bears have taken extra steps this week to refocus on the task at hand. Quarterback Josh McCown was encouraged — not that he’d tell us if he wasn’t.
‘‘It’s going to be loud [at the Edward Jones Dome],’’ McCown said. ‘‘We’re going to be dealing with the noise, but it’s how we focus in practice. I’ve liked it the last few days. We’ve just got to be a little bit more tuned in Friday through Sunday.
‘‘I’m not sure exactly, but there was a disconnect there for us [against the Ravens]. . . . We’ve got to study more. We’ve got to make sure we’re dialed in to what we’re doing and spend more time on it, so when we get these first few plays, we have an idea of what we’re doing.’’