AL HAMNIK: New Bears' leadership not afraid to lower the boom

2013-08-31T17:15:00Z 2013-09-09T18:28:11Z AL HAMNIK: New Bears' leadership not afraid to lower the boomAl Hamnik Times Columnist nwitimes.com
August 31, 2013 5:15 pm  • 

General manager Phil Emery and new head coach Marc Trestman form a scary partnership because t-e-a-m is all that matters to them.

Individual egos and past accomplishments can take the next bus out of town. Their NFL is all about now.

I wouldn't call Emery and Trestman devious; more like plotting and cunning. And they don't miss a thing.

Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, once the face of the franchise, was tredding water after 13 seasons and they cut him loose to drift away.

H-back Evan Rodriguez had talent but too many run-ins with the law, so they dropped him like a dirty ashtray.

Offensive tackle J'Marcus Webb, a walking penalty flag, struggled to learn the Bears' system and lacked the needed discipline, so he was cut after three seasons.

And then you had training camp favorite Fendi Onobun, an ex-college basketball star turned tight end who had a cup of coffee with five NFL teams in 2011.

At 6-foot-6 and 260 pounds, Fendi had one problem: He couldn't catch the ball with any consistency.

He was among the 17 cuts announced Friday.

"It would be an absolute blessing if I made the team, an amazing story," Onobun said after Thursday's preseason finale with Cleveland. "I'm 26 years old and didn't start playing (the game) until I was 23.

"Just learning the process, learning the game, learning how to read defenses, learning how to run routes. Whatever happens (Friday), I gave it my all."

Emery and Trestman, who may as well be joined at the hip, want production on a steady basis, figuring if everyone on the 53-man roster does that, their t-e-a-m benefits and then maybe we can talk postseason.

"As I've said many times. There's a light there," Trestman said of Onobun. "When that light switch goes on, he's got a chance to be a very good player."

Onobun was targeted eight times against the Browns and had four catches for 45 yards. He said it was the most football he ever played in his life and felt he had progressed throughout the game.

Emery and Trestman saw it differently.

There's a slight chance Onobun could make the practice squad since depth at tight end remains a concern.

Trestman has other questions as the Sept 8 opener with Cincinnati draws near. On HBO's "Hard Knocks", you saw a focused and very physical Bengals' defense flapping its gums about winning the Super Bowl.

The Bears are likely to start rookies Kyle Long and Jordan Mills on the right side of the O-line, so Jay Cutler will definitely be earning his money.

Trestman and Emery are expecting great things from their often-erratic quarterback, but they aren't father figures or big brothers like the team had with former coach Lovie Smith and some front offices of the past.

They're more like that guy on the auto assembly line, whose top priority is the finished product and getting all the pieces to fit properly.

"I think we see signs of the team we can become," Trestman said. "We've seen that in training camp and we saw that (in Oakland) a little bit.

"It will all start next Sunday. We're going to find out a lot about ourselves in the next 16 weeks."

What should make Emery and Trestman so unpredictable, so scary, to their players is that the past is dead. The present is their resume.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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