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updated: 12/2/2013 8:33 PM

Bears' Trestman too smart to play dumb

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  • Bears quarterback Josh McCown walks off the field after Sunday's 23-20 overtime loss to the Vikings.

      Bears quarterback Josh McCown walks off the field after Sunday's 23-20 overtime loss to the Vikings.
    Associated Press

  • Video: Trestman on FG decision

 
 

As Bears head coach Marc Trestman often says, "It's a fair question" or "That's a good question."

Monday the questions, if not in so many words, were along the lines of, are you a dummy, wasn't attempting a field goal on second down dumb, and what in the freaking world were you thinking?

Those questions likely weren't asked as passionately and angrily in either English or French when Trestman coached Montreal in the Canadian Football League.

But this is Chicago and the National Football League, where the sport is a religion, every game a Sunday service and every decision evaluated like a line in a pastor's sermon.

Welcome to the big time, Mr. Smarty Pants.

Trestman is ultra vulnerable to dissection because brainpower supposedly is his forte.

This isn't Mike Ditka, who never was accused of being a football savant. His strength was as a motivator, which helped the Bears win a Super Bowl. Trestman is more a calculator than a motivator.

As I wrote about Trestman last month after another dubious decision, the smarter you are the dumber you fall. Win the game despite bad decisions and you'll be forgiven. Lose the game despite good decisions and you'll be skewered.

As an NFL head coach, Trestman doesn't have the Bill Belichick credentials yet to be credited when the Bears win while the players are blamed when they lose.

Trestman is being roundly rapped for -- among other moves -- having Robbie Gould attempt a potential game-winning 47-yard field goal on second down instead of trying to move the ball in a few more yards.

Monday, Trestman expressed no regrets other than that the Bears lost.

That gave critics -- the media and Bears fans -- an opening to further criticize Trestman again.

Widening the conversation, the real question here is whether this particular play is a sign that Trestman went temporarily numb or is permanently dumb?

Ten games in his rookie season isn't a large enough sample, but either way Trestman is a target now because Chicagoans are football folks who know more than some guy just down from Canada.

These are the Bears, coach, not the Montreal Alouettes. This is an NFL charter franchise. This is the team founded, owned and coached nearly forever by the legendary Papa Bear.

The Bears shouldn't be a team that hires novice NFL head coaches, yet that's what the Halas/McCaskey ownership always has been partial to doing.

Trestman the rookie has to prove himself with every call. It doesn't help that the Bears have an awful defense and unreliable running game that can compel a coach to operate outside his better judgment.

In other words, a team's weaknesses sometimes force a coach to outsmart himself, like kicking a field goal on second down when the clock doesn't say he has to.

Was rushing the kicker into the game wrong? Absolutely, because Gould misfired. If the kick was good, Trestman's explanation would have been the stuff of genius instead of gibberish.

Anyway, after all this is said and done, the possibility exists that taking into account injured and inadequate players, no coach could have made the Bears better than their current 6-6 record.

But nobody wants to hear it this week. Injuries are no excuse even when they are.

Trestman is expected to coach up the players he has. The next man up is expected to man up. And the Bears' margin for error is so narrow that they can't coach or play dumb.

By the way, coach, no question is unfair around here after the Bears lose a game they should have won.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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