When discussing head coaches in the NFL who excel at keeping things on an even keel, one often will say he’s exactly the same in victory as he is in defeat. It’s meant in the most complimentary of ways.
I started to pay Marc Trestman that compliment before I realized I can’t. He’s undefeated as an NFL head coach, and after witnessing the first weekend of regular-season action around the NFL, he might be staying that way for a little while.
But as we await his reaction to his first NFL loss, which will arrive as certainly as death and taxes, the early report on Trestman is he is about as even in temperament and unflappable in every situation as any coach we’ve seen in a long, long time.
At his first victory Monday news conference, Trestman delivered a 41/2-minute opening statement in as monotone a fashion as possible. He complimented his troops on almost every facet and detail of the Bengals game for more than three minutes, and then talked about exactly where and how they need to get better.
“But yet our guys know, as we talked today, our feet are on the ground. We’ve got to improve defensively, as you saw, we’ve got to get off the field. We didn’t do a god job of getting off the field yesterday on the defensive side.
“We’ve got to get our pads down on both sides of the ball. And we’ve got to get more pressure with the four-man rush.
“Offensively, we’ve got work to do, as well. Our running game is not where we want it to be. Matt [Forte]had 19 rushes and I don’t think we even got to three yards a carry. Matt touched the ball 25 times and there were no explosive plays, we’ve got to do a much better job for Matt and we think we can.
“We really appreciated winning the game because it’s so hard to win in the National Football League. But we’re not going to get ahead of ourselves, our feet are on the ground, our eyes are wide open.
“We’ve got work to do, I think the guys know it.”
In less than two minutes before a question even has been asked, Trestman gave us a more factual and honest evaluation of his team than Lovie Smith gave us in nine years.
I am neither a Lovie basher nor a detractor. I believe his winning record, three NFC North titles and one conference crown speak for themselves. But when it came to communicating with Bear Nation, his monotone delivery and obvious disdain for that part of his job made him his own worst enemy.
Trestman carries himself almost exactly the same way, but he treats his fans’ need and right to know what’s going on with respect rather than disdain and actually tells us, for the most part, what we want to know. He doesn’t make us feel like we’re the worst part of the job.
And he does it with no emotion, no drama, just the facts Jack.
One disturbing event in the Bengals game was the proof Major Wright offered that he still doesn’t get his responsibility in the Cover 2. When asked if Tim Jennings was expecting and should have had help on the A.J. Green 45-yard touchdown pass, Trestman answered quite simply, “Yes.”
Trestman didn’t call out Wright or get angry or defensive, he just answered the question in exactly the same tone he’d been handing out compliments for the previous 10 minutes. You could tell he thought it was a teaching moment.
Our visit ran more than 25 minutes and, honestly, if I hadn’t known the Bears won going in, I couldn’t have guessed as he spoke. I think he’s going to do fine.
Of course there’s a large segment of Bear Nation that longs for a yeller and a screamer, “Da Coach” if you will. How he will play with them when the losses come will be fascinating to see.
• Hub Arkush covers the Bears for Shaw Media. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.