Marc Trestman scheduled his first training camp test for the Bears on Thursday morning.
Only he refused to call it a test.
So, the first test for Bears players is understanding the gobbledygook coming out of the new coach.
Players knew they would face three sets of 300-yard shuttles. Goal line to the 50 and back, goal line to the 50 and back, goal line to the 50 and back. Sounds like a test to me. Sounds like a pretty demanding fitness test, in fact.
But not to Trestman. In his weirdly worded world, it’s an "accountability exercise." Jay Cutler called it a test. Trestman called it team-building.
Lot of hooey, is what it is.
The players know it’s a test. The public knows it’s a test. Even Trestman knows it’s a test. Trestman is testing the fitness level of his players. They’re either ready or not. They win or they lose, just like every play, just like every game. The NFL is all about identifying a winner and a loser at every moment. It’s all very Darwinian, but Trestman seems to be working from the script of an afternoon special on this one.
Trestman, it seemed, was hoping that a player who failed would feel guilty about letting down his teammates. Or perhaps Trestman would hope the guys who passed would apply peer pressure on those who fell out.
If everybody passed, then Trestman likely would view it as each player’s being a good teammate and taking responsibility to be fit and ready to perform for the rest of his teammates.
Call me a cynic, but I think players will view it as “thank goodness I passed that.’’ The operative word is “I.’’ No player will say, “Thank goodness we passed this. Go, us. Yeah, team. Sis-boom-bah.’’
Of course it’s a test. Everything in the NFL is a test. Everything at every time. The self-serious NFL refuses to have it any other way.
I mean, the best coach in the league is regarded to be Bill Belichick, even though he hasn’t won a Super Bowl in almost a decade, or since Charlie Weis left, and we’ve seen how that gasbag has galumphed about the country since, so how much of a genius could Belichick be?
No matter. He’s regarded as the best coach and he has had a personality-ectomy, so, the rest of the league figures it has to work 24/7, right, Phil Emery, because somehow Belichick is cheating to get ahead of them.
I know Trestman is a smart guy. I know he’s a thinker, but this is out-thinking yourself for no good reason. "Accountability exercise"’ sounds like something that makes players’ eyes roll or glaze over. In a player’s world, accountability is earning a paycheck, which is easier to do when he can understand the coach without the aid of closed captioning.
"Team building"’ is corporate hooey. Team building in the NFL comes from winning. Period. Next.
No player believes this kind of drill is team building. Deep down, players don’t believe training camp practices are team building because they know the coach can cut them at any time. We’re talking about 90 independent contractors trying to get more work from the foreman.
Call it what it is. It’s a test, and if you call it a test, you give players something they can understand and something they can win at the start of camp. Sounds like a couple wins for the coach, too.