By Steve Silverman-
(CBS) How long is it going to take Marc Trestman to institute his “systems of football” effectively so the Bears become the kind of juggernaut that can dominate the NFC?
It’s going to take a lot longer than Bears fans expect. Trestman was hired for his offensive expertise and his ability to teach and implement a sophisticated gameplan is his calling card. Former players like Raider quarterback Rich Gannon swear by his methods and he will give the Bears a road map for developing their offensive game.
But to think they are going to get there quickly is foolish thinking. The previous head coach left offense to his coordinators. Lovie Smith’s last offensive coordinator was meat and potatoes Mike Tice, who wanted to keep things basic and simple. The Bears were easy to figure out under Tice.
Prior to Tice, Mike Martz had control of the offense. While Trestman preaches a different plan of attack than Martz, both men ran what most NFL observers consider much more complicated and intricate offenses than the one Tice ran.
The Bears never seemed to master what Martz had to offer. Much of that was on the offensive coordinator. He thought he was an excellent communicator and teacher; his players would differ. Particularly quarterback Jay Cutler.
Trestman’s offense is more intricate than Martz’s gameplan. There are more plays and more variations.
If the Bears couldn’t ever get Martz’s gameplan down pat, why would they be able to get Trestman’s down in one training camp and be ready to hit the ground running when the Bears open the season against the Cincinnati Bengals Sept. 8?
The only way they would have a chance to run his offense with expertise would be to have an old-school training camp that included playing hard in all four preseason games.
You can’t get a brand new offense simply by going through the steps at mini-camp, OTAs and a watered-down training camp.
Preseason games haven’t been useful for at least 15 years. They are now exercises in injury-avoidance. Coaches usually don’t push their starters hard because they are afraid of season-ending injuries.
There’s every reason for coaches to fear them, but when new coaches take over, they have to push harder so players can learn new systems.
There’s nothing in Trestman’s nature to think he is going to push hard or be demanding at the start of training camp.
Trestman’s personality will be key to the Bears’ development. He was always known for his creativity and inventiveness earlier in his career with the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders. However, he didn’t offer his players much of a glimpse to the way his mind worked. He was an all-business kind of guy.
That’s probably the biggest thing that changed during his five-year run as a CFL head coach with the Montreal Alouettes. Trestman opened up and had a much better rapport with his players.
If he’s a changed man, his players will get to know him quickly once they are together every day in training camp.
However, his passing offense will take time to learn. It’s likely to result in a learning curve that will last most of the 2013 season.
Patience will be needed and miracles should not be expected.
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.