Trestman, Bears staff still catching up

New Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman said he and his staff are still behind in terms of preparation for the NFL Scouting Combine, free agency and this year's draft.

The amount of work new Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman is attempting to accomplish in a short time frame gives a new definition to the term "mult-tasking." Since being hired on January 16th, Trestman has had to not only build a coaching staff, but also evaluate the players on the current roster, as well as the 2013 crop of free agents and the incoming rookie class.

For most, such a packed schedule would be overwhelming, so it's no surprise that Trestman, who has coached in the CFL since 2008, still hasn't completed his coaching staff.

"We're just about complete with our staff," Trestman said this morning at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine. "We'll finish up with a wide receiver coach over the next few days. And we're excited both about the fit that he will bring to our team and what he will do in our receiver situation in terms of handling the guys on a daily basis."

For Trestman, a first-time NFL head coach who hasn't worked in the league since 2004, coming up to speed with the personnel both on Chicago's roster and around the league has been a time-consuming process.

"We've also spent time evaluating our football team from inside out," he said. "Our coaches have spent a tremendous amount of time watching tape of our players and evaluating them as much as we can without having the opportunity to spend time with them on the practice field or in meetings.

"Secondly, we've also done a very diligent job, our staff and our personnel people, evaluating the free agents that are out there as well. The process for both is ongoing and certainly that information will be kept internally as we move on to the offseason and get closer to those dates."

Which leads us up to this week, where Trestman and his staff will begin the evaluation process of the more than 120 prospects at this year's scouting combine.

"Well, that's why we're here. We're just getting started with that. And we're getting started with getting to know the players," said Trestman. "It started at the Senior Bowl. Most of the time I spent at the Senior Bowl was in interviewing staff and getting our staff organized. So early on the excitement always to come to the combine to get a first look at these guys — from my standpoint, from our organization, from every organization's standpoint. So this is where it gets started. Certainly it's been ongoing relative to the personnel departments and scouting departments and things like that, but this is a first look from a coach's standpoint."

Brian Urlacher
Matt Kartozian/USA TODAY Sports

Obviously, Trestman is far behind most of his coaching counterparts, most of whom have been preparing for this weekend the past 12 months. Making matters harder for Trestman is the cloud hanging over the team regarding the future of Brian Urlacher, who is set to become a free agent next month.

"That's an ongoing process. We evaluated our entire football team as much as we can without seeing [Urlacher] work, without having some formal time with him on the field," Trestman said. "As we move forward through the process, through the process and the spring, things are going to be resolved. But right now between [GM] Phil [Emery], the personnel department and myself and the coaching department, we continue to talk about these things and process the information. But we're not going to go any further than that in our discussions."

Emery hired Trestman because of his extensive history of developing quarterbacks. The hope is that Trestman can help Jay Cutler finally reach his potential. Yet Cutler will soon be a free agent himself following next season. So far, there has been no discussion regarding a possible contract extension.

"I haven't discussed any of that with Jay or with Phil up to this point," Trestman said. "I'm excited to coach Jay. I've had a couple of opportunities to talk with him on multiple levels and I'm excited to work with him in all facets of his game. I really am. He's an extremely bright guy. He loves football. He's got a great skill set. So we've got to work hard to provide him the resources he can to maximize his ability and that goes into everything we're doing in all three phases with the personnel department and with our coaching staff."

One thing he has discussed with his staff is second-year defensive end Shea McClellin, Chicago's first-round selection last year. McClellin was inconsistent his rookie season, struggling to apply consistent pressure and getting bulled over against the run. Many still believe he's best suited as an outside linebacker.

"We've talked about that. He has flexibility. He's a tremendous athlete," said Trestman. "As we put our football team together, we'll work on that. We've had discussions about Shea and all the strengths and his weaknesses. And he's got a lot of strengths and a lot of great things he can do. As [defensive coordinator] Mel [Tucker] and the guys continue to put the defense together, we'll decide collectively what the best place for him to play is."

Based on the amount of work Trestman faces, it's slightly concerning how far behind he and his staff, many of whom have never coached in the NFL, are in their preparation for the upcoming offseason, which starts March 12, the opening of free agency.

"As of now, no I have not [had time to catch up]," Trestman said. "It's been looking at our team from the inside. Evaluating our football team. And again, spending time in meetings with Phil, the personnel department, our coaching staff. In both areas of personnel internally and the free agency side at the same time finishing up our coaching staff, working on the playbook, which we're doing daily. So that'll be the last piece of the puzzle as we work into the spring and summer is getting to be really acclimated certainly with our divisional opponents, which I am somewhat, but not to the point where I'd want to be when the season begins and then certainly our opponents upcoming this season."

The race is now on for Trestman and his staff to get up to speed. Free agency starts in a little more than two weeks and the draft is five weeks after that. The onus will be on Emery to get everyone on the right track in an extremely truncated period of time. If he fails in that, the Bears could suffer in 2013.

Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.

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