New Bears coach Marc Trestman has need for speed
BY MARK POTASH email@example.com April 16, 2013 10:47PM
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Updated: April 16, 2013 11:10PM
With a back-to-basics approach, every new NFL coach channels Vince (‘‘Gentleman, this is a football’’) Lombardi on the first day of practice. That’s as close as most of them ever get.
‘‘Our only goal today was to practice fast,’’ Marc Trestman said after his first practice as Bears coach Tuesday at the Walter Payton Center. ‘‘To try to develop how we want to practice, a tempo of practice where we can keep our players off the ground and make sure that we can get them to the next place safely and still get competition between the [first-team offense] and [first-team defense]. That’s the way they’ll get better, by practicing ones on ones against each other.
‘‘It’s very clear we have a fast football team. And practicing fast will help us [develop] the muscle memory to play fast all the time. It was a good start for that.’’
The tempo routine is not a novel one.
‘‘All we’re trying to do is set tempo,’’ Lovie Smith said on the eve of his first minicamp practice in 2004. ‘‘Setting the tempo on how practice is run. How we practice and just starting to develop our personality of what our team is going to be.’’
It’s not that difficult to see the difference between Smith and Trestman. Smith’s first minicamp was marked by some questionable hits in supposedly non-contact drills — Marty Booker aggravated a rib injury and suffered an ankle injury. Brian Urlacher went down with a hyperextended knee.
Trestman seemed to get his point across without overdoing it. The 75-minute workout was run crisply and cleanly and without incident. Instead of pushing it, Trestman skipped the final period of the practice.
‘‘We got out of this day what we needed to do. We kept everybody safe,’’ Trestman said. ‘‘We got enough on tape to make corrections. Overall, it was a good start. The No. 1 thing is we got through it safely, and we’re on to meetings and then another day.’’
Jay Cutler noticed the difference.
‘‘It was faster,’’ Cutler said. ‘‘We were in and out of the huddle. We tried to create as [much of a] game-like atmosphere as possible. Ran a lot of plays, in and out. We want to put pressure on guys.’’
Trestman’s approach seems to be as much about efficiency as tempo. He’s not tiptoeing around the key roster questions he inherited when he was hired to replace Smith. Gabe Carimi, drafted as a right tackle, will compete with free-agent signee Matt Slauson for the starting job at right guard. Devin Hester, who tantalized Smith’s staff as a wide receiver for years, is exclusively a kick returner again.
You can’t make too much of any practice, let alone the first one. But it’s worth noting that Trestman literally set the tempo himself by hustling all over the Payton Center for a first-hand look at what the offense, defense and special-teams units were up to.
‘‘That’s just how I’ve been doing it,’’ Trestman said. ‘‘I like football and moving around and making sure people are running to the ball. That’s kind of how I’ve done it.’’
It remains to be seen if Trestman will be as successful in the NFL as he was in the CFL. But already we’ve gotten a glimpse of the secret to his success. Trestman keeps everybody on their toes. He demands efficiency and commands his players’ attention. Even when he’s not watching them, they think he’s watching them.
Every coach wants to put his players in a position to win. Trestman puts his players in a position to learn. With the talent on offense, that gives him a fighting chance. Maybe more than that.