Reporting Steve Silverman
By Steve Silverman-
(CBS) Right now, everything is hunky-dory between Bears general manager Phil Emery and new head coach Marc Trestman.
The Bears have a much more intellectual approach with Emery and Trestman than with the previous regime of Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith.
The whole idea is for the Bears to get up to speed with the modern game and develop a passing offense that is capable of holding its own, if not dominating, when the Bears compete with the better teams in the league.
Obviously, Emery and Trestman have a long way to go.
But it doesn’t always have to take a long time for a team to get comfortable playing the “modern” game. Take the Seattle Seahawks last year. By the end of the season, they may have been as strong as any team in the NFC. Remember, they pummeled the eventual NFC champion 49ers 42-13 in Week 16.
That would not have happened if head coach Pete Carroll had followed the gameplan that the Seahawks were on track to follow in the offseason.
General manager John Schneider had signed the team’s quarterback of the future in Matt Flynn during free agency. The Seahawks then drafted Russell Wilson in the third round. That move seemed like a bit of a reach because Wilson was short at 5-11 (on his tiptoes) and he had a good but not great arm.
But a funny thing happened in training camp. Wilson clearly outplayed Flynn whenever he got the opportunity to show off his abilities.
Despite his lack of height, Wilson was able to move around the pocket and find throwing lanes. Despite his so-called ordinary arm, Wilson was putting the ball on the money nearly every time.
And then there was a little thing called the leadership factor. Wilson had it from head to toe. It was obvious from the way his teammates responded to him. Never mind that he was a rookie. Football players know real leadership from false bravado. Wilson was the real thing.
By the second week of training camp, Carroll knew he had something special in Wilson. By the last preseason game, he was convinced.
He knew it didn’t matter how much the Seahawks had spent on Flynn. Wilson was simply the better football player and he had to be in the lineup.
As head coach, that was the best decision Carroll made last year. He believed what his eyes told him. Scouting reports and veteran status didn’t matter.
That’s the lesson that Trestman must get this season as he takes over the Bears. It would be great if Emery is also on the same page, but it is Trestman who decides who plays.
Emery decides who the team signs in the offseason and who the Bears draft next month, but Trestman has to make the decision on who plays every down.
He has to be decisive in his decision making and his resolve must be strong.
The Bears signed Jermon Bushrod from the New Orleans Saints with the idea that he will solve the left tackle problem the Bears have had for years. His past performance says he will do the job. However, if Bushrod gets outplayed decisively in training camp by Cory Brandon, Trestman will have a tough decision to make.
If he makes the wrong call, it will lead to more disappointment in the win-loss record.
That’s not likely to be the issue for the Bears, but the Wilson-Flynn scenario wasn’t likely in Seattle.
If Gabe Carimi can’t get the job done in the offseason and in training camp, he needs to be jettisoned in favor of Edwin Williams or whomever the Bears draft to play right guard.
If J’Marcus Webb doesn’t have the upper-body strength to man the right tackle position adequately, Trestman must make the call even if that means an undrafted rookie free agent has to play that vital position.
Trestman can take counsel from his assistant coaches but he has to decide who starts for his team. He must stand up to Emery if that is what is required.
That may not be an issue, since Trestman appears to have a lot of salesman in him.
Trestman needs to take a page out of Carroll’s book and trust his eyes when deciding who’s in the lineup.
That’s the factor that is likely to define his first year as head coach of the Bears.
Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman was with Pro Football Weekly for 10 years and his byline has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Playboy, NFL.com and The Sporting News. He is the author of four books, including Who’s Better, Who’s Best in Football — The Top 60 Players of All-Time. Follow him on Twitter (@profootballboy) and read more of his CBS Chicago columns here.