They look like the guys who got beat up in high school. Phil Emery with his dark rimmed glasses, Marc Trestman with his bad hair, but they are the face of the next generation of Chicago Bears football. I really started to see Phil Emery as a football nerd when he spoke following Lovie Smith’s dismissal. He cited Pro Football Focus and STATS, Inc. as he explained grading his offensive linemen. He gave a detailed and thorough outline of the process he’d follow to find a new coach. He used his scouting process to whittle down the coaching candidates from 14 to 3 and then to one – Marc Trestman.
Trestman isn’t your typical football coach. If you’re looking for “fire and passion,” screaming and ranting Ditka-esque sideline demeanor, think again. How many coaches have a law degree? Trestman proved himself to be football nerd when he started talking about teaching “the science of football” repeatedly. I can almost picture him in a Bears-logo lab coat working through progressions with Jay Cutler. He too will take a meticulous approach to the game of football.
These football nerds will prove that it’s not about luck; it’s about skill and preparation. Don’t tell them about Bear weather or any of those myths. They will have facts and figures to dispute those antiquated notions. This will not be meatball football; this will be a new era of Chicago Bears football.
Emery will be charged with bringing in talent, the most talented prospects he can find through free agency, trade and the draft. Trestman and his assistant coaches – all experienced in their craft – will be responsible for developing that talent and putting that talent in the best possible position to succeed.
We don’t know if this approach will work but in other sports, there’s evidence of success. Look at what the Chicago Cubs are doing. They’ve burned it all to the ground and Theo Epstein, who is a baseball nerd in his own right, will try to build it back up into a championship organization. He’s doing it armed with a pile of statistics and his experience doing it in Boston.
There’s another organization from the Boston area that is seems like Emery and the Bears are trying to emulate and that’s Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots. Emery draws inspiration from the Patriots having served under Scott Pioli, one of Belichick’s henchmen.
No one will be more affected by the football nerds than Jay Cutler and Brian Urlacher. Make no mistake about it, this coaching search was all about Cutler. The Bears will fix him or decide to move on under Trestman’s guidance. As he gave his opening remarks, Trestman’s voice was mostly measured and reserved. But when he went into topics about offensive strategy or the quarterback, you could hear the excitement in his voice, unable to keep the football nerd inside at bay.
“I can’t wait to get my hands on him and go to work with him, and I think he’s ready. We’re going to try to put a system of football and put people around him that can help him be the player that he wants to be. That’s the exciting part, and we’ll get started today.”
As for Urlacher, it will not be about sentimentality or a sense of nostalgia. Whether or not to keep Urlacher will be a business decision. Can he still contribute in the scheme the Bears plan to run at a price that is beneficial to the Bears. It’s tough to write that because #54 has been the face of the franchise since the turn of the century. Of course I want him to stick around and finish his career on his terms, but it will be about the football nerds and their plan.
Geek has suddenly become sheek. Can Emery and Trestman, the football nerds, prove that’s the case in the NFL? We’re about to find out.