Newly hired Bears’ head coach, Marc Trestman, along with his boss, GM Phil Emery, held a press conference late this morning at Halas Hall and spoke to the media about the hiring and plans for the team in 2013.
After a predictably tiresome introduction from Emery who did not take questions, Trestman spoke like a political nominee, with plenty of hyperbolic appreciation for the opportunity, complete with noticeable catch in the throat emotion. The native Minnesotan recalled seeing a Bears/Vikings game in 1966 and being a coach on the opposite sideline facing Ditka’s ’85 champs at the Metrodome.
The usual football coach-speak followed: only slightly updated from the Knute Rockne era, which every player has been forced to listen to since they first put on pads in high school. How grown men, veteran, professional NFL players buy into working for a lifelong assistant to an assistant who eventually became the top guy in minor league Canadian football, will determine if Trestman can succeed at the top level in Chicago.
Specific questions about quarterback Jay Cutler (“I can’t wait to get my hands on him!”) and how the NFL game has changed in the decade Trestman has been largely away from it were answered with nervous enthusiasm (“I can’t wait to get out of this room and get started!”).
Trestman admitted that defensive coach Rod Marinelli will not remain with the Bears. It was speculated that Marinelli would stay on, but apparently his close friendship to Lovie Smith who was fired, made the situation untenable and the search will be on to hire a defensive guru, either from within the current ranks of leftovers or someone completely new.
Trestman was hired mainly to correct problems on the offensive side of the ball, but now a potential lack of continuity for a capable, veteran, defense exists with the departure of Marinelli. Assistant coaches (special teams mainstay, Dave Toub, departed to join Andy Reid’s new staff in Kansas City) and a number of players were upset over Smith’s firing and Trestman will be challenged to gain the respect of men who have been with the Bears for a long time.
However, Trestman is head coach and he will call the shots in addition to calling the offensive plays for Cutler while allowing the quarterback to audible at times. When asked directly if Cutler was a “franchise quarterback”, Trestman did not answer affirmatively, relying on euphemisms common to his background as an attorney and a published author (apparently his book “Perseverance: Life Lessons on Leadership and Teamwork” will be semi-required reading for the team). Cutler’s contract runs out after this season.
Trestman also wisely dodged a question about whether middle linebacker, Brian Urlacher, currently a free agent, would return to the Bears’ defense. Urlacher’s age and injuries might preclude a new, expensive contract in addition to a rearranged, if not entirely revamped, defensive approach from a new coaching staff. Trestman confirmed that he has final say on naming assistant coaches and said “a few guys from the (Montreal Alouettes) staff will come south”.
The new Bears coach and his staff are going to be thrown into the proverbial NFL fire with expectations that they can lead their team into the playoffs in 2013. This is not some rebuilding job where fans and ownership will patiently await the development of a new system and a roster full of young players. It’s a veteran team that has narrowly missed out on the postseason the last two years and is running out of time to make one last grab at a Super Bowl ring.
Trestman, despite his extensive background and experience, is a relative novice when it comes to running a pro team in the NFL and whether he can bring this Bears team to immediate success is going to be the ultimate challenge of his football life.