LAKE FOREST | Two thoughts struck tight end Martellus Bennett almost as soon as he met new Bears coach Marc Trestman.
One was this: Trestman's a genius.
"He's a lot like me," Bennett said, laughing. "I was like, I like this guy. He's a lot like me. He's a genius, I'm a genius. There's two geniuses in one room. Hey, let's go with it."
All joking aside, this is a big week for Trestman.
He makes his debut as an NFL coach when the Bears host the Cincinnati Bengals, and to say he's come a long way is no exaggeration.
After years as an assistant in the league and on the college level before heading to the CFL, Trestman finally has his opportunity. Just don't expect him to get all sentimental when he walks into Soldier Field on Sunday.
"I would think it's going to be all business," Trestman said. "I just can't see it being bigger than that -- focus on the football team and my job during the course of the game. I'm certainly very appreciative going out there being the head coach of the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
"There's no doubt about it. But my focus is to continue to prepare this week and go out and do my job on Sunday."
The Bears hired Trestman to replace the fired Lovie Smith, hoping he could spark their offense and get the most out of quarterback Jay Cutler.
Now, they'll see how it all comes together. They'll also be tested right from the start against a team that made the playoffs and boasts one of the top defenses in the league, with Geno Atkins poised to wreak all kinds of havoc for the Bengals.
Trestman spent the past five seasons as the head coach of the CFL's Montreal Alouettes, winning back-to-back championships, but it remains to be seen if that success will translate to Chicago.
"When he talks to you, he understands how everything's interconnected between not only us but things that happen in our lives," said Bennett, beginning his first season in Chicago. "Everybody's connected and everyone's part of everyone's family."
On the field, the Bears' success hinges largely on a rebuilt offensive line and Trestman's ability to get through to Cutler, something past coordinators Ron Turner, Mike Martz and Mike Tice were unable to do.
Either way, the spotlight is on the head coach. He has a strong history working with quarterbacks, including Bernie Kosar, Steve Young and Rich Gannon.
Cutler, meanwhile, has something to prove. He also has an expiring contract, and the perception in Chicago is he's out of excuses.
After all, the Bears have four new starters on the offensive line, including newcomer Jermon Bushrod at left tackle. They have an elite receiver in Brandon Marshall, a versatile running back in Matt Forte and a pass-catching tight end in Bennett.
Mostly, he has an offensive-minded head coach. They're running the West Coast offense, which should get the ball out of the quarterback's hands and cut back on the number of hits he absorbs. On the surface, it appears he has everything he needs.
"Anyone who has really worked with him says kind of the same thing; he's going to do everything he can to protect the quarterback and he's going to try to make our job as easy as possible, which I think has rang true so far," Cutler said.
Much has been made of his relationship with Trestman, but it's not just about the quarterback.
Everyone, it seems, is curious. Players like what they see so far from Trestman, but what happens when the games start to count? How will he handle the pressure?
"I know I'm very curious to see how once the season starts how he reacts when the pressure gets going and the bullets start flying," cornerback Tim Jennings said.
"Everything's starting to be real. So I'm real curious to see how he can manage the offense and manage the whole team as well. We all bought into the system. We believe in him, and so we're just excited to get this thing going."