Bears

Experience in CFL an asset, not a liability for Trestman

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Experience in CFL an asset, not a liability for Trestman

In the end, for a franchise that had never gone outside for a head coach who had held that job somewhere else, it came down to Marc Trestman having been a head coach.

GM Phil Emery explained that the two-week interview process had winnowed his field of 14 candidates (13 known, once special-teams coach not revealed) down to three. One of those Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell had never been a head coach and was eliminated first.

That left Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, who had been an interim head coach this season with coach Chuck Pagano ill and the Temple head coach for two years, and Trestman.

The latters only head-coaching experience was the last five years directing the Montreal Alouettes. But it was enough.

Marcs experience as a successful play caller was important, Emery said. But more important, his success as a head football coach was a determining factor.

Canadian connection

Ironically, the fact that Trestman did his head coaching in the Canadian Football League was raised as a question over his candidacy. The opposite turned out to be the case in Emerys mind.

Emery in fact cited Trestmans drive to pursue a top job north of the border, in a new game with new players, rules and even a playing field, as one of the character reasons behind his decision for Trestman.

The mental toughness that it takes to go into a place that you've never been before where they dont know you or anything about you, where they speak a foreign language, it's a town unfamiliar to you, in a game that's different than the one you've been coaching, Emery said. Now you have 12 men instead of 11 to coordinate.

To go in that and take on the task of being a head football coach, and do it with a staff that you hired, there was no staff in that building when Marc came there, he interviewed and hired all of those individuals on his own, and to have great success and to win championships, that tells me a lot about that candidate, that's a candidate I want to be in the room with.

The Not Mike Ditka

Trestman does not have the reputation, nor did he present the image, of a firebrand. Indeed, he has a law degree, is known for thoroughness and is not given to thundering public displays.

One of my concerns was that it might take Bears fans a while to warm to him, Chairman George McCaskey said, likening Trestmans demeanor to that of the legendary Bill Walsh. After hearing him speak Thursday, I dont have that concern.

Meeting of minds

More than the fans, however, who will warm to Trestman the first time he administers a beat-down to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, it is Trestmans mind-meld with Emery that forms the cornerstone of the football operations now.

Player-coach relationships will be forming as well. But Emery was particularly interested in how Trestman relates to others, not just what he wanted for himself.

The first question that Marc asked me, was, for you, when you're drafting players, is it the best player or the best system-fit player, Emery recalled. I said absolutely it's the best player; you want the best player that can transcend schemes, that has a skill set that will work out and will be able to progress as a player regardless of the scheme.

Trestmans reaction: Good, if I'm the head football coach, let's do that, because I can take those players and we'll take their skill sets and we can adapt to what they do best so that we can win.

Trestman also told Emery of his favorite saying: What I do for myself, is buried with me. What I do for others lives forever.

That said a lot to me about his approach to life and who he is as a person and his personal growth, his journey, his story, Emery said, then laughed. He also told me that he got that quote from Criminal Minds. So there was another connection, because my wife and I, we love Law and Order and Criminal Minds, so I knew we had a match made in heaven.

Bears-Lions prediction: Will special teams continue John Fox's NFC North woes?

Bears-Lions prediction: Will special teams continue John Fox's NFC North woes?

Only three of John Fox’s 12 wins as Bears coach have been against NFC North opponents, while 12 of his 29 losses have come against divisional opponents. 

That’s a recipe for back-to-back-to-back last place finishes in the NFC North. And if the Bears can’t beat an Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay Packers team, why could it beat a Detroit Lions team that has a healthy franchise quarterback?

The positive end of that answer is the Bears do have wins over two playoff teams (Pittsburgh and Carolina) while six of their four losses have been by eight points or fewer. Sunday’s game will probably be close, again (if it’s not, and the Bears are on the losing end of it, it would raise some significant concerns about the state of Fox within the locker room). 

So if the game is decided by one possession or less, this could be the difference: Detroit has one of the best special teams units in the NFL, ranking second in Football Outsiders’ DVOA, while the Bears are 28th by the same measure. 

Getting Sherrick McManis back this week should help solidify Jeff Rodgers’ special teams units, but Jamal Agnew has two punt return scores and is averaging 18.3 yards per return. 

“Tough guy — he’ll return inside and outside,” Rodgers said. “He’s got multiple longer returns against people this year. it’s not just, ‘I had a long return in Week 2 or Week 1,’ and kinda held onto that. he’s been productive in a lot of games. certainly a guy that we’ve gotta do a good job against.”

If the Bears don’t do a good job bottling up Agnew, though, he could be the reason why the game flips to Detroit — or, at least, why the Lions keep the Bears at arm’s length. 

Prediction: Lions 24, Bears 16

SportsTalk Live Podcast: How hot is John Fox's seat?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: How hot is John Fox's seat?

Seth Gruen (Bleacher Report/”Big Ten Unfiltered” podcast), Chris Emma (670TheScore.com) and Matt Zahn (CBS 2) join Kap on the panel. If the Bears lose badly to the Lions, should Sunday be John Fox’s last game? 

Plus Bulls Insider Vincent Goodwill joins the panel to talk Bulls as well as the Niko/Portis cold war.

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here: