Trestman-Emery Relationship “Bears” Watching

David Haugh at the Chicago Tribune adds another aspect related to the suspension of tight end Martellus Bennett that I didn’t think of:

“In acting so boldly, [Phil] Emery did the best thing for the Bears, even if the [general manager]‘s show of strength potentially weakened the perception of his coach. It was [head coach Marc] Trestman who ended practice early Monday because of the fight, and it should have been Trestman who announced the discipline because the Bears expect more from their players.”

Its food for thought.

When Jerry Angelo was GM I was constantly berating him in this space for interfering with former head coach Lovie Smith. It was (and still is) my opinion that the GM’s job mostly ends when the season starts because the process of roster building mostly ends. I didn’t think anyone should hear from the GM too much after that point because I think the players need to be answering to one voice in the locker room and I think it should be the head coach’s. You don’t want the players listening to the head coach and wondering what the GM thinks.

Similarly, I (along with many Bears fans) was critical of Smith for interfering too much in scouting and in personnel matters in the offseason. Its fairly obvious that Trestman has no such problem as this excerpt from an article by Adam L. Jahns at the Chicago Sun-Times on wide receiver Santonio Holmes‘s tryout indicates:

“‘I did not [see the workout],’ coach Marc Trestman said Wednesday at Olivet Nazarene University. ‘I’ve got it on tape. I haven’t looked at it.

“‘[How Holmes performed is] something for our personnel department at this time because I don’t have a response because I didn’t look at it.'”

Presumably that means that he didn’t see Greg Herd, the wide out they eventually signed, workout, either.

Should the announcement of Bennett’s suspension have come from Trestman? I’m going to leave it at a definite “maybe”. There are a few reasons why it may be OK in this particular case.

  1. Trestman and Emery seem to be on the same page most of the time and they appear to work together better than Smith and Angelo did. They aren’t constantly interfering with each other. With a clear separation of powers, Trestman trusts Emery’s judgment, and that of scouts whose full time job is to evaluate non-Bears personnel, without too much question. Emery appears to be willing to let Trestman do his job and coach in the same way. The relationship reminds me of that between Packers GM Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy. And that’s a good thing.
  2. Trestman is preaching peace, love and family to the team. Having Emery do the announcing, even if its clear that everyone, including Trestman, agreed to the punishment, allows Emery to play the heavy in the relationship while Trestman – to a limited extent – plays “good cop”.
  3. The question of discipline of this kind is a mutual decision. Its something that has to be decided on an organizational level. There’s nothing wrong with the head of the organization making the announcement if its clear that everyone was involved in the decision – and it was.
  4. Assuming last year was typical, we won’t be hearing much from Emery during the season and Trestman will, indeed, be doing most of the talking. Emery did the rounds on the talk shows to speak about the state of the Bears at mid-season (as is perfectly appropriate). But with maybe a few exceptions that was it.

Overall I’m happy with what I see when I look at the Trestman-Emery relationship. Unlike that between Angelo and Smith, there’s no undercurrent that gives you a feeling that there’s a power struggle going on. Trestman doesn’t appear to want to play GM and the GM doesn’t appear to want to play coach. With that relationship, I see no reason why this team shouldn’t continue to run smoothly on an organizational level.

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