The week leading up to the Chicago Bears game against the Minnesota Vikings was a tough one for Bears Coach Marc Trestman. Local and national reporters and talk radio hosts declared the Trestman era over following a three-game losing streak and embarrassing losses to the New England Patriots and the Green Bay Packers. There was even speculation that he had lost the team in the locker room and may even be fired mid-season, which is an extremely rare event in the NFL.
Marc Trestman also had to deal with the talented, but mercurial actions and statements of wide receiver Brandon Marshall who challenged a man to a boxing match via Twitter to protest bullying. In addition, veteran linebacker Lance Briggs didn’t help matters by admitting he has trouble paying attention in team meetings. Trestman even had to deal with internet trolls who have harassed his daughters.
On Sunday, Trestman and his team managed to cobble together an uneven win over the Minnesota Vikings. Then, Trestman surprised reporters by being much more taciturn in his day-after-game news conference. Trestman was known for giving very detailed answers to questions and often opining at times both oddly and eloquently on his philosophies of life.
Instead, Trestman was very short and to the point Monday and often ended his terse answers with “and I’m going to leave it at that” rather than a truthful and complete response. Trestman seemed more like previous Bears coach Lovie Smith by responding to routine questions with awkward and evasive answers.
The Chicago media predictably reacted that this was a shocking departure and that Trestman was being overly defensive. Actually, Trestman has had a rough period in his stewardship of the Bears and he needed to circle the wagons. Trestman has some veterans in Jay Cutler, Marshall and Briggs that are not particularly media friendly. Those three players will not necessarily toe the line like fan favorites like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.
Many other successful NFL coaches “tolerate” the media, but do not necessarily cooperate. No one would say Bill Belichick embraces his press conferences. Lovie Smith (now Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach), Mike Tomlin, and Tom Coughlin among others have been successful, but are not touchy feely with the media.
Leadership is tricky. The “us against the media” theme has been a tool utilized by many successful and not so successful coaches. It is not surprising Trestman has “grown up” in the face of withering criticism, but the question is whether he can salvage the season and his job. The NFL in 2014 is a week-to-week league. It is hard to write off Trestman at this point. He may just be growing up in the harsh lights of the NFL.
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