Marc Trestman says he will have too much on his mind Sunday afternoon when the Bears meet the Cincinnati Bengals in the season opener to get caught up in the emotions of his first regular-season game as an NFL head coach.
“I would think it’s going to be all business,” Trestman said. “I just can’t see it getting any bigger than that. (I’ll be) focused on the football team and my job during the course of the game.”
But some time before the noon kickoff at Soldier Field, the 57-year-old Trestman, who spent the previous five seasons coaching the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League, will take some time to reflect.
Not much time, though.
“I plan on taking a deep breath and taking a moment to appreciate what’s going to happen — but not during the game,” said Trestman, who spent 17 years as an NFL assistant and six as a college assistant before getting his first head-coaching job north of the border.
“I’m excited, I’ve said it each and every day, (but) I’m really focused on what I’m doing.
“I’m certainly very appreciative of going out there and being the head coach of the Chicago Bears. But my focus is to do my job.”
Job One for Trestman is combining an eclectic group of weapons into an improved offense, one that can help the Bears reach the playoffs for just the second time in seven years. Repeated failures on offense have been the major cause of the Bears’ playoff drought.
Part of the reason Trestman was hired is because he has a long track record of engineering offensive production, but he’s uncertain how effective the Bears’ attack will be Sunday.
“There’s so much unknown in our offense,” he said. “There’s unknown in terms of where we are with our offensive line. We’ll find out (Sunday).”
The unknowns along the offensive line are rookies Kyle Long and Jordan Mills at right guard and right tackle, respectively. Especially against the Bengals’ excellent pass-rushing defensive line, quarterback Jay Cutler will prioritize getting the ball out in a hurry.
But that’s something that’s always stressed in Trestman’s offense.
“We’re going to get rid of the ball quick,” Cutler said. “You don’t really want to give (No.) 97 (Geno Atkins) or any of those other guys a lot of time to work into their second moves because they get to the quarterback a lot, and they show you a lot of different fronts, which makes it more difficult, trying to figure out who’s who.
“So we’ve got to be on it with our protection game and then on the outside, guys have got to be open quickly.”
The offense of Trestman and offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer is designed to feature multiple weapons. Adding tight end Martellus Bennett to featured wide receiver Brandon Marshall, plus a greater emphasis on getting the ball to running back Matt Forte and the expected improvement of second-year wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, should give Cutler more than enough options.
If the Bears are to improve on last year’s offense — 28th in yards, 29th in passing yards, 28th in interceptions and 27th in sacks — it will need better play from Cutler, who is at a crossroads in his career.
In his contract year, Cutler will be working under his fourth offensive coordinator in five years with the Bears, a turnover rate of which Trestman is aware.
“Even if you’re in the same system, it’s still a new year; there’s still new people involved and new coaches involved,” Trestman said. “(Cutler) has certainly embraced everything we’ve asked of him. I feel good about where he is right now.
“But it’s going to take 10 guys around him doing their job as well. It’s not a one-man band out there. Certainly the quarterback is the focal point, but he can’t do it alone. He’s going to have to have help out there, and that’s part of the deal.”
Everything clicked for Cutler and the offense in the third preseason game, when they looked unstoppable. But the Bengals present a much tougher test.
“We’ve shown signs that we can be a very good offense,” Trestman said. “Certainly we want to temper our thoughts because we know we haven’t done it on a seasonal game, and I think we’ll find out a lot more (Sunday).”
Maybe then the new Bears coach can take some time to savor the situation.
ŸFollow Bob’s NFL reports on Twitter @BobLeGere, and check out his Bear Essentials blog at dailyherald.com/sports.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.