Published July 27, 2013
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – Marc Trestman is off to a fast start with the Chicago Bears.
The new coach was a blur during the first training camp practice on Friday, trailing players and urging the offense to hurry up when it was slow to snap the ball.
If things seemed a bit chaotic, well, that's how he wants it.
"What we're trying to do essentially is slow everything down on Sunday and this is not unique to us," Trestman said. "But the faster we go and the more chaotic we can make it for them the easier things are going to be on Sunday.
"Things happen so fast on Sunday that if we can create that environment as much as possible here — more game-like — we hope that they'll play better and we believe they will. So that's the reason for it."
It's a new era in Chicago and it's safe to say the new boss is not quite the same as the old boss.
Gone is the stoic and defensive-minded Lovie Smith. In his place is the offensive-oriented Trestman, who looks more like a CEO than the typical football coach with his comb-over and dark-rimmed glasses. He hardly sounds like one, either.
In Trestman's world, the conditioning tests that players went through on Thursday weren't tests at all. No, they were "an accountability exercise."
He uses terms such as "self-actualize." Which means?
"What we're trying to do is create an environment in which every player can be the best football player they can be every day," said Trestman, a University of Miami law school graduate. "The only way to do that is for the guy next to him to try to do the same thing. Because of the interconnectivity of this game, you can't be the best you can be unless the guys around you are working at it.
"That's the sell," he continued. "We can't be good unless you're good. It's practical from the standpoint of going to fundamentals, finish, coaches creating environments for those players to be the best they can be. It's the whole process on a daily basis: coach-player, player-player, player-coach, coach-coach, that goes into getting this done.
"That's our goal: to bring out the best in these guys every day and we hope they want to bring out the best in us. That's where you create the edge every day, the sense of urgency. It's a message you send every day in different ways because not everybody hears that message the same way. That's the fun of being in front of 90 guys because everybody hears the message in different ways."
The question is whether the players will follow. Quarterback Jay Cutler turned a few heads when he said, "Not everybody has bought in, but that's OK. We still have a lot of time. Hopefully by the time the first game rolls around, we have everyone on the same page."
The presumption was that the offense was more gung-ho, given Trestman's background, than a defense that was loyal to Smith.
Defensive end Corey Wootton said it simply takes time to adjust to a new coach while suggesting that was the point Cutler was trying to make. Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Tillman insisted he's on board, saying, "If I hadn't bought into the system, I wouldn't be here. I'd be at home somewhere."
Management decided to send Smith packing after a second straight collapse spoiled a promising start and kept Chicago out of the playoffs for the fifth time in six years since the 2006 team's Super Bowl run.
The Bears turned to Trestman, who spent the past five seasons with the CFL's Montreal Alouettes and led them to two Grey Cup championships. A longtime assistant in the NFL before that, he's a head coach in the league for the first time.
"I think his communication skills are top-notch," new tight end Martellus Bennett said. "He hears you out when we're in meetings. (If) you have questions, raise your hand, he'll stop and answer your questions and have a little discussion. It's good because everyone's learning and he's not just talking at you."
Trestman inherits a team that won 10 games but has some big question marks. Topping the list is whether he can connect with Cutler and turn around a stagnant offense.
There was no stalling on Friday.
Instead, there was Trestman yelling when the offense took a little too much time, "Six seconds now, we gotta go! Make the call!"
Or, there he was right with the receiver or running back heading downfield.
"Nothing like any of the other coaches we've had in the past," receiver Earl Bennett said. "That's a good thing."