By Jeff Joniak-
(CBS) The Bears host the Bills on Sunday at Soldier Field. Here are a few thoughts on the mind heading into the season opener.
Bears coach Marc Trestman is fired up about the season. It showed in the Bears Coaches Show on WBBM radio Monday night and again yesterday in his post-practice news conference at Halas Hall. He’s never been one that embraces hypotheticals. He lives in the moment and isn’t one to predict anything. It’s wasted energy.
“I know how I feel right now,” Trestman said. “I feel real good. I’m excited about the game. It’s just football. We have expectations that we’re going to play very well and here’s why: We work hard at it, we prepare hard at it. Now, we can get into all the hypotheticals. Well we don’t have a lot of experience, we haven’t played together, this is a new team. We can do all that, but 31 other teams are saying the same thing. They all are. Everybody is saying the same thing. So that’s why it’s exciting, isn’t it? Because we don’t really know.”
What we do know is that given what lies ahead for the Bears in the first half of the season, this opener is an extremely important game to win.
Hiring martial arts expert Joe Kim to be a defensive line assistant may prove to be one of the best under-the-radar moves by the Bears. Lamarr Houston, Stephen Paea, Willie Young, Will Sutton and other defensive linemen have repeatedly praised Kim for his work with their hands and tying them together with their feet to defeat a blocker. I also watched cornerbacks Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman work on their hands to deal with physical hand fighting receivers trying to defeat press coverage or a re-route in zone coverage.
Center Roberto Garza works out with Kim before every game. Guard Kyle Long said the instruction Kim is giving builds confidence that comes with having another weapon to use. Kim is on his ninth organization but has experience with Bears general manager Phil Emery from his days in Kansas City with the Chiefs. Every little advantage helps. It’s been my experience that players at this level who seriously want to be great will dig in and work with anybody they feel makes them better. First they have to believe in the teaching, then it has to work for them on the field and then trust is built leading to results.
Honestly, I just don’t understand all the angst with Trestman’s decision to grant linebacker Lance Briggs a “personal day” off weeks in advance of Monday’s absence. We learned Briggs didn’t inform Trestman the request was for his Northern California restaurant opening, but to me it doesn’t matter. What matters is that he will be ready to play like he always is Sunday against the Buffalo Bills. I expect him to be vitally important in helping stop one of the best running games in the NFL.
Fourth and short
Long admits he had no idea what he was doing in his rookie season starting at right guard. Raw strength, unique athleticism, a nasty disposition on the field, great teammates to lean on and learn from and a unique investment of time got him through the season. For the first time in his football-playing life, he actually had an offseason to just train in the weight room and learn what it is he exactly needs to know to perfect technique and master the Bears’ offensive scheme. While more educated to execute his assignments, Long still is a raw talent with a high ceiling to be a cornerstone for the Bears offense for years to come. I’m excited to see his story unfold.
Jeff Joniak is the play-by-play announcer for the Bears broadcasts on WBBM Newsradio 780. Follow him on Twitter @JeffJoniak.