It’s early. If it were any earlier it would be yesterday.
It’s too early for sweeping evaluations, so consider this a premature assessment … an early return if you will. It’s what we do. It’s in the sportswriter handbook.
Three preseason games into his first year, Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman comes across as a breath of fresh air in a city famous for its wind.
Yes, he looks like the guy who does your taxes or taught you algebra. He seems more scholar than schemer.
Yet, get beyond the glasses and the Dumb and Dumber haircut and there is a football coach with real thoughts who is not afraid to share them.
What a concept.
For nine years his predecessor wouldn’t tell you the sun was out if it were shining in his eyes. To have a coach who actually sheds light on matters surrounding his team borders on historic.
No wonder Trestman invited Mike Ditka to practice this week, the first time “Da Coach” had been at Halas Hall since being fired in 1992. Ditka was the last Bears coach to say anything worth writing down.
With Dave Wannstedt, Dick Jauron and Lovie Smith, the Bears experienced two decades of coachspeak abyss. One after another they stepped to the podium and the podium won.
That is not to say Trestman is dynamic. He is not going to pound his fist a la Ditka. Nor will he lay out his game plan. No coach will do that.
What he does is answer questions thoughtfully and give fans a glimpse into what he is doing and, occasionally, even why.
After third-string quarterback Matt Blanchard was injured in the second preseason game, the Bears signed free agents Jordan Palmer and Trent Edwards.
Rather than spew the hem and haw of the past 20 years, Trestman immediately shared his plan on who would play when in the final two preseason games: Friday night at Oakland and this Thursday against Cleveland.
He said Jay Cutler would play the first half at Oakland, followed by Josh McCown in the third quarter and Palmer in the fourth. That’s how it went down.
“Next week we plan on holding both Jay and Josh out and playing Jordan and Trent,” he said earlier this week.
No guesswork, no cloak and dagger. Palmer and Edwards will split time Thursday at Soldier Field. Cutler and McCown will hold clipboards or signal in plays or yawn a lot, anything but take a snap.
It was a small thing, but Trestman gave Bears fans more in 30 seconds than Smith did in nine years. Be thankful for that.
Trestman also seems to have an offense that when blocked efficiently and read correctly by the quarterback can produce good results. With two rookies on the line and Cutler under center, neither can be assumed.
What seems clear is that Trestman will address whatever happens with more than a robotic “we have to look at the film.”
Does that make him a good coach? No, just a person, and Bill Belichick not withstanding, can’t you be both?
Trestman may not spill his guts at a microphone, but early indications are he won’t turn your stomach.
Enjoy the fresh air.