AL HAMNIK: Trestman's Bears love football but is that enough

2013-09-16T19:45:00Z 2013-09-30T21:00:08Z AL HAMNIK: Trestman's Bears love football but is that enoughAl Hamnik Times Columnist
September 16, 2013 7:45 pm  • 

All that Bears fans want is a simple explanation when their team sputters and is ineffective.

Lovie Smith was coy, evasive and demeaning when media would approach him for honest answers, implying that only members of his staff really know football.

New coach Marc Trestman has been a welcomed change. He speaks in layman's terms, is as transparent as cellophane, and has a knack for making everyone feel at ease.

You'd expect that approach from your child's youth soccer coach, but not an NFL coach who knows he was hired to be fired one day.

Many see Trestman as a geeky optimist who probably sleeps with a smile on his face, but make no mistake, he'll cut any non-productive player in a heartbeat.

The Bears are 2-0 but needed some luck in both wins and Trestman knows the main areas of concerns: Jay Cutler's poor judgment at times, a suspect pass rush, a four-point margin of victory, and allowing 25.5 ppg.

"We can get better and the evidence was out there today," Trestman said after Sunday's comeback win over Minnesota.

What you won't get from him is a rip job on players, the ugly details, past or present deficiencies, warnings, threats or gold nuggets for media.

Trestman isn't a big brother or second father to his Bears but he is direct and honest, traits they respect.

"I know that they love football," he said. "I see that every day in practice, something you (media) don't get to see. They work very hard at it, every period, every individual.

"Since Day 1, they made a collective decision to play the next play the best they can and see what happens at the end. That's all we can ask of them."

But it's not absolution for what the Bears are lacking.

"We've got to continue to improve our third-down conversion rate (50.0)," Trestman said. "We put the game in (quarterback Christian) Ponder's hands and he did a good job, particularly in breaking containment. We gotta get better at that."

The Bears' defense has only two sacks and right end Julius Peppers has one tackle, though Trestman said the perennial Pro Bowler had been fighting flu-like symptoms all week.

OK, we'll give him that.

But if Peppers doesn't pick up his game soon, Trestman can expect a hard line of questioning minus the kid gloves, and he'll be ready for it.

"We're two or three plays from being on the other side of 2-0," he admitted.

Perhaps the Bears' squib kick in the final seconds and Blake Costanzo's strip of John Carlson best typified an attitude ingrained within Trestman's squad.

"That's what they teach our defense and we do it every single day in practice, so it becomes second nature," Costanzo said. "Shoot, just trying to make a tackle, get the ball back.

"You only get certain opportunities. I saw one and tried to make a play. That was a huge play."

But very, very risky.

Imagine if the Vikings had controlled ball and moved it close enough for a game-winning field goal.

"It's a win and we'll take it whether it be one second left or whatever," Costanzo said.

No guts, no glory. I think my dry cleaner said that.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at

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