Experience in CFL an asset, not a liability for Trestman

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Experience in CFL an asset, not a liability for Trestman

In the end, for a franchise that had never gone outside for a head coach who had held that job somewhere else, it came down to Marc Trestman having been a head coach.

GM Phil Emery explained that the two-week interview process had winnowed his field of 14 candidates (13 known, once special-teams coach not revealed) down to three. One of those Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell had never been a head coach and was eliminated first.

That left Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, who had been an interim head coach this season with coach Chuck Pagano ill and the Temple head coach for two years, and Trestman.

The latters only head-coaching experience was the last five years directing the Montreal Alouettes. But it was enough.

Marcs experience as a successful play caller was important, Emery said. But more important, his success as a head football coach was a determining factor.

Canadian connection

Ironically, the fact that Trestman did his head coaching in the Canadian Football League was raised as a question over his candidacy. The opposite turned out to be the case in Emerys mind.

Emery in fact cited Trestmans drive to pursue a top job north of the border, in a new game with new players, rules and even a playing field, as one of the character reasons behind his decision for Trestman.

The mental toughness that it takes to go into a place that you've never been before where they dont know you or anything about you, where they speak a foreign language, it's a town unfamiliar to you, in a game that's different than the one you've been coaching, Emery said. Now you have 12 men instead of 11 to coordinate.

To go in that and take on the task of being a head football coach, and do it with a staff that you hired, there was no staff in that building when Marc came there, he interviewed and hired all of those individuals on his own, and to have great success and to win championships, that tells me a lot about that candidate, that's a candidate I want to be in the room with.

The Not Mike Ditka

Trestman does not have the reputation, nor did he present the image, of a firebrand. Indeed, he has a law degree, is known for thoroughness and is not given to thundering public displays.

One of my concerns was that it might take Bears fans a while to warm to him, Chairman George McCaskey said, likening Trestmans demeanor to that of the legendary Bill Walsh. After hearing him speak Thursday, I dont have that concern.

Meeting of minds

More than the fans, however, who will warm to Trestman the first time he administers a beat-down to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, it is Trestmans mind-meld with Emery that forms the cornerstone of the football operations now.

Player-coach relationships will be forming as well. But Emery was particularly interested in how Trestman relates to others, not just what he wanted for himself.

The first question that Marc asked me, was, for you, when you're drafting players, is it the best player or the best system-fit player, Emery recalled. I said absolutely it's the best player; you want the best player that can transcend schemes, that has a skill set that will work out and will be able to progress as a player regardless of the scheme.

Trestmans reaction: Good, if I'm the head football coach, let's do that, because I can take those players and we'll take their skill sets and we can adapt to what they do best so that we can win.

Trestman also told Emery of his favorite saying: What I do for myself, is buried with me. What I do for others lives forever.

That said a lot to me about his approach to life and who he is as a person and his personal growth, his journey, his story, Emery said, then laughed. He also told me that he got that quote from Criminal Minds. So there was another connection, because my wife and I, we love Law and Order and Criminal Minds, so I knew we had a match made in heaven.

Jordan Howard wants to lead Bears... and lead the league

Jordan Howard wants to lead Bears... and lead the league

So Jordan Howard finished second in the NFL in rushing in his rookie season, despite just a dozen carries in the first three games. The fifth-round pick joined the man who beat him out for the rushing title, Ezekiel Elliott, as one of just five rookies in history to average five or more yards per carry on over 250 carries. And he set the Bears' rookie rushing record with his 1,313 yards while becoming just the fourth in franchise history to rush for that many yards in a season.

Sounds pretty hard to top, like we might be set up for the dreaded sophomore slump.

But...

"Things are a lot different this year because I know what to expect," Howard said during the team's minicamp two weeks ago. "I know all the plays and things like that. I’m not out there thinking, so I can just play free and fast.

"I definitely feel like a veteran 'cause I know what to expect and can help the young guys on the plays that they're not understanding. I’m just more comfortable and want to be a leader."

One of the other things we learned about Howard last year is he's low-key, a man of few words. So the Indiana product by way of UAB will make his points verbally when needed, but his actions will speak louder.

"He was a rookie a year ago and didn't even go in trying to be a leader, telling a five-year guy what was up," said head coach John Fox. "I think with time, and obviously with production like he had, I think it's a role he can fall in to. We're in a performance-based business and even in that locker room, what they do on Sundays gives them some credibility."

One of the concerns about Howard coming out of college was durability, but he answered the bell once he became the starter in week four against Detroit. And he probably wasn't used nearly as much as he should have. The good news about that is he was subject to less wear and tear, averaging just 18 carries per game from that Lions game on.

But besides taking more of a leadership role, Howard wanted to work on his speed without sacrificing the strong base that, paired with keen vision and work by the offensive line, allowed him to hit holes quickly and charge toward the second level of opposing defenses.

"Just improving on the little things – my conditioning, my weight, catching passes. And looking for ways to finish runs better," says Howard. "I feel like I’m in much better shape than I was at this time last year, a little more toned-up."

"It's just training," said Fox. "When you get to that it's more like track speed than football speed and I think he proved pretty worthy of that a year ago as a rookie. Y'know we all can improve on things, and that's the expectation. He's trained hard.

"This time of year last year he wasn’t even practicing," Fox remembered. "I like where we are, we’ve brought in more competition, and he’s better for it. He’s kind of gotten used to an NFL season, he’s come back ready to roll, but he still has work to do before we get to training camp."  

Oh, and the 22-year-old has a couple of other goals he didn't mind sharing, besides being a leader and getting a little faster.

"First off, make the playoffs. Be the leading rusher, and just help the team in any way I can and stay consistent."

Did Brandon Marshall disrespect Jay Cutler with Hall of Fame shade?

Did Brandon Marshall disrespect Jay Cutler with Hall of Fame shade?

Brandon Marshall is no stranger to keeping it real.

The outspoken All-Pro receiver never minces his words and that continued over the weekend when he showed off his signed jersey collection.

Marshall took to Instagram and showed off "Santa" hanging all of the jerseys he's swapped with other NFL players:

Santa doing work.. . #jerseychallenge

A post shared by Brandon Marshall (@bmarshall) on

The list includes a host of current and future Hall of Fame players: Champ Bailey, Cris Carter, John Lynch, Darrelle Revis, Lance Briggs, Adam Vinatieri, Adrian Peterson, Larry Fitzgerald, Joe Thomas.

When almost all the framed jerseys were hung, Marshall took his followers through:

@nfl #jerseychallenge

A post shared by Brandon Marshall (@bmarshall) on

Marshall compliments each player before, calling them "Hall of Famers" before getting to Jay Cutler at the end and going "Hall of..." multiple times.

Was that Marshall throwing shade at his former quarterback in both Denver and Chicago? If it was an innocent mistake or whatever, there's no way Marshall would've posted the Instagram video, right?

Marshall and Cutler were good friends from the beginning of their careers with the Broncos. So much so that the Bears traded a pair of third round draft picks in March 2012 to allow the two to continue their bromance by the lake:

But Marshall and Cutler have had a contentious relationship since.

Last summer, Marshall responded to a Tweet saying "of course" he misses Cutler. Last August, Marshall hopped on ESPN's First Take and said he thought Cutler could win the MVP Award in the 2016 NFL season.

At the same time, Marshall talked about his relationship with Cutler and said he was the only person on the Bears with the "huevos" to hold the enigmatic quarterback accountable. Marshall also said he was "sad" he didn't talk to Cutler much in the year leading up to August 2016.