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updated: 12/28/2013 11:00 PM

Bears' Trestman has ability to make the right call

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  • Bears coach Marc Trestman, talking with quarterback Jay Cutler during last Sunday's loss to the Eagles, has shown a knack for calling the right play at the right time.

    Bears coach Marc Trestman, talking with quarterback Jay Cutler during last Sunday's loss to the Eagles, has shown a knack for calling the right play at the right time.
    Associated Press


When members of the Bears' offense are asked about coach Marc Trestman's play-calling, they use phrases like, "Trest is in a zone" or "he's dialing up the right plays."

The Bears are averaging 27.8 points per game, tied for third in the NFL. They're No. 3 in yards per play, No. 5 in passing yards and average gain per pass play, No. 8 in average gain per run play and No. 9 in third-down efficiency.

Great skill-position players definitely help, but it's more than that.

"I think Trest has a real good bead on what we're doing well, putting us in different positions to be successful," quarterback Jay Cutler said. "He's got a feel for what he likes to call, what we're running well, what we feel comfortable with, what the offensive line likes in the running game."

Before short-circuiting in the blowout loss to at Philadelphia, the Bears hung 45 points on the Dallas Cowboys with Josh McCown at quarterback and scored 38 a week later at Cleveland with Cutler calling signals.

The offense has thrived with both quarterbacks, in large part because it's running the right plays at the right times.

"I think a lot of it goes back to play-calling and what Trest has been able to do with this offense," Cutler said. "He's (been able to) kind of mold it through the course of the year and call some really good plays and dial them up when we need them."

Whether it's because he's in a "zone," has a "feel" or has developed a better idea of what certain players can do in specific situations, Trestman more often than not seems to have a pretty good idea of what play to call and when to call it.

"He calls a play, and it works," Cutler said, simplifying things. "He's hitting the coverages on the head. If we've got a Cover-3 play (called), we're getting Cover-3. If we've got a man(-to-man) play, we're getting man(-to-man coverage). He's not calling Cover-2 beaters and we're catching man(-to-man), or vice versa. He's got a good feel for defenses and he's making sure we have answers."

Trestman, of course, minimizes his role and spreads the credit for the Bears' play-calling success around.

"(It's) good players and really good coaches," he said. "It starts with what goes on in the classroom and generally it's more about the players than the playcaller.

"That's the best way I can say it without creating a symposium on play-calling.

"I just think it's really about, No. 1, the players and about their coaches who work every day to get them in the right position, and then when all that comes together you've got a chance to have a successful play."

Offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer also is the offensive-line coach and one of the principals in game-planning.

He agrees with Trestman that players who know their assignments and know what to do when a play doesn't go exactly according to plan can help make playcallers look good.

"Honestly, it's preparation by our players," Kromer said. "You can call a lot of plays, and there's answers for just about every play we call, no matter what the defense does.

"Shoot, I've stood up here for 16 weeks now and said, 'We're still growing as an offense,' and we still are. But when most of the players know what should be done and how to react and respond if it doesn't happen according to plan you're going to have success."

There's also the element of surprise.

It helps if the defense can't predict what's coming, which means Trestman is most effective if there isn't a pattern to his play-calling that the opposition can use to anticipate his next move. That means self-analysis to prevent against becoming predictable.

"We look back to see what we're doing relative to personnel groupings, relative to down-and-distance tendencies, and things like that," Trestman said. "We take stock in it from that standpoint of making sure we're not always doing the same thing.

"But basically we select a play because you think it's the best play in that individual moment based on all the other factors that go into it, and you call a run or a pass."

More often than not, Trestman has made the correct choice.

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