The first really questionable coaching decision finally came in the 6th game of the season for the Chicago Bears rookie Head Coach Marc Trestman.
In the 1st quarter, the Bears had the ball on the NY Giants 12 yard line after CB Zachary Bowman (who was playing for the injured Charles Tillman) intercepted Giants QB Eli Manning pass on the 3rd play from scrimmage. The Bears ran the ball three times (the first play looked like a called throw but QB Jay Cutler scrambled) and were looking at a 4th down and 2 yards to go. Most coaches (myself included) would have gone for the sure thing and kicked a field goal. After all, 3 points is 3 points.
Marc Trestman is not like most coaches.
Instead, he opted to go for it on 4th down; Cutler threw the ball; it was incomplete and the Bears turned the ball over on downs.
The Giants started from their own 4 yard line and ended up throwing a pick-6 to the Bears other starting CB Tim Jennings. The Bears led 7-0.
They could have been up 10-0.
One one hand, I don’t like the call at all. Points are hard enough to come by in the NFL and to choose to give up the almost guaranteed 3 points for harder to get 7 points is not necessarily the smart move. I spent the rest of the game wondering if that one decision was going to cost the Bears a victory, especially in the 4th quarter when the Giants were driving down the field one last time. The play call was curious and unimaginative and it just didn’t seem right from the start.
When I went back and looked at the play closer, I saw that WR Brandon Marshall probably would have scored if the ball was out in front of him instead of behind him and WR Earl Bennett was open in the front corner of the end zone where Cutler has become famous for throwing back shoulder touchdowns in the first few games of the season.
Now that I have had a few days to think about the situation and play call, I actually kind of like it.
If you look at the play from a broader perspective it actually makes sense; the game is less than 2 minutes old; if you convert for a touchdown, the team is up 7-0 and if you turn the ball over, the other team needs to go 96 yards themselves. It was risky, yet it was a calculated risk. And it paid off.
If the Bears executed the play better and they score or get the first down, then Trestman looks like a genius; the Bears didn’t convert, and Trestman looks like a kook who over thought the situation. It is the classic hero or goat situation.