Saturday I was asked on the radio if to this point I'm disappointed or if Marc Trestman had exceeded my expectations as a head coach?
I groped for an answer before realizing I wasn't going to have one because while I had definite expectations for the Bears' offense under Trestman, I really had no idea what to expect from him as a head coach because his hiring was so far outside the box.
I can say this about the job Trestman's done running the Bears so far. I'm very impressed. If I had to give him a grade through six weeks, it would be a B+.
Trestman's first job has been to clearly separate himself from the prior regime. Fairly or not, Bears Nation had had enough of Lovie Smith because of his style, not his record, and it's been important for Trestman to show how he'll be different.
Speaking Friday after the Bears' 27-21 victory Thursday over the Giants, Trestman started his news conference by saying of his defense, "It was not our best performance, no doubt about it. On the downside, third down and red zone certainly were not as productive as it had been the two weeks before; our tackling wasn't as crisp."
When asked a question, Trestman answers honestly, and although he doesn't tell you anything he doesn't want to, he always tries to tell you something. He does seem to care what the fans and media think.
When asked about the progress of Shea McClellin, Trestman responded, "Shea is a work in progress, but certainly there's evidence Shea can be that guy (defensive end). At the same time, we'll continue to move him around as well."
Personally, I'm not sure what evidence we've seen that McClellin can be that guy, but it's understood that for Trestman to say anything else would be throwing his guy under the bus.
His acknowledgement that McClellin may eventually have to play somewhere else is like a culture change for Bears fans and more than welcome. Without selling out his players, he finds a way to tell the truth.
As for the football, we can all be as concerned as we want about how the Bears are winning and who they're beating. The bottom line is Trestman has them in first place at 4-2, and there's no better way to judge a coach than wins and losses.
He has the Bears beating all the teams they should and maybe even one (Bengals) they shouldn't have.
The Bears' defense isn't in trouble because of coaching but because of personnel. In fact, I for one am surprised Trestman and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker have been able to get as much out of them as they have.
As far as the offense and what Trestman has accomplished so far, there's no way to overstate the difficulty of installing a new scheme with one entire side of your line being manned by rookies, including one who only started four games in college.
Add that the line has killed the offense the past three seasons, and it's now vastly improved, and you're talking outstanding coaching.
It's also clear Jay Cutler is playing the best football of his career, another monumental feat considering the number of coaches who've tried with him and failed.
So what makes Trestman a B+ instead of an A or A-? Just two things, both of which there is still plenty of time to correct.
His offense still lacks any real identity, struggles too often on third down and has failed to use multiple weapons in the same game. That can be fixed with repetitions and experience and an offseason of additional talent acquisition.
Game and clock management is also an issue. Not a problem, but an area that needs work. Again, work that can only come with experience.
There are of course still multiple tests to pass, but so far Trestman has been everything the Bears could have hoped for.
• Hub Arkush covers the Bears for Shaw Media and HubArkush.com. Write to him at [email protected]