Watch CBS News

Baffoe: Marc Trestman Is The Anti-Coach

By Tim Baffoe-

(CBS) I had one of those record-skip moments this past Monday.

Driving home after another day of successfully molding America's youth into Baffoe clones I heard on 670 The Score a clip of Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman explaining his controversial approach to the team's timeouts against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

The question was expected to be thrown Trestman's way. As the Ravens had the ball toward the end of regulation and were about to either go ahead or tie the game, most people watching were wondering why the Bears weren't attempting to leave more time for quarterback Josh McCown to continue writing his chapter in Chicago football lore as the greatest quarterback ever. The Bears ended up winning, but, dude, why did you make us panic so? We'd been long used and abused by the way Lovie Smith used his timeouts when he was here.

"When you call timeouts at the end of halves, you want to call them in succession if you can," said Trestman. "If you're calling them just hit or miss, there's really no value on that."

O… kay…

"…When you start a drive from the 16-yard line, you have a 13 percent chance, probably in the last five years, to score a touchdown. And you have to take that into consideration when you go into the game. And then when a team's driving, you need to know what they have and you need to know what you have. They had two timeouts at the time. And we had three timeouts."

Wait, numbers? The hell is going on here?

"Well, the normal thinking is you never want to leave a game with your three timeouts. You want to get them back, especially in those situations. But the fact of the matter is that there was really no time to use the timeouts. And when you're in a two-minute situation and if you use your timeouts and there's no way you can call them in succession, you give them more time on each and every play to get the people out there that they want to complete that, to get that play done. So you have to consider that."

I… I'd never… looked at it that way before.

"So really, only the first time where I considered really calling a timeout was after Ray Rice had the 11-yard run down to the 5-yard line. And he took that ball with, I think it was about 1:16 when he had that ball. That was the first time. I was down there with the official. That was the first time. But when you put it all together, the numbers all together, if you call three timeouts right there in succession, you're still only getting the ball back at 18 seconds. OK? If you let it run, they're in a 2-minute mode and now they've got to call two timeouts."

Please stop making sense. You're scaring me.

"So a couple things come into play with them using their two timeouts. Number one, they didn't call a timeout on the first one which means they had to call a play out of their 2-minute package instead of using their red zone package. So that's number one. They didn't call a timeout and get into different personnel groupings. They called a play. And then by using their two timeouts, we knew what they had to do on third down. They had to throw it. Because there wasn't enough time left to do anything else."

I'm not used to this kind of thorough competency.

"So we cut the percentages in half of run to pass and then it was just one big leap of faith. If we had called three timeouts in a row, we've got 19, 18 seconds left at the max. So, the percentage of them scoring … It's a leap of faith. They went all the way down the field. Three points yes. Tied the game. Seven points? We're talking 13 percent."

Realize that Trestman is saying all this on the spot rather than in a formal prepared statement.

"And then from an offensive standpoint as a playcaller, I know if you call timeout, you get what you want out there. If not, you've got a limited bag of plays you can use. So that's the reasoning behind it. I would have loved to have been able to have a situation when they were running the ball and they started to get into that field goal area, where we could have plugged the timeouts, each one on top of each other. But that wasn't the case."


That doesn't happen. NFL head coaches don't answer questions like that. Such candidness and volume of response is not supposed to happen. We're supposed to be talked down to and fed clichés and walk away not with an understanding but apathy so that we don't continue to press the issue.

He is Marc Trestman. He is the Anti-Coach.

I had an inkling of it in training camp when his responses to questions were very un-Lovie—you know, he actually answered them instead of treating them as an affront to his job. I should have figured as much knowing how general manager Phil Emery takes a more analytical approach to the game rather than the old school eye tests of game tape and how the hiring of other football-equivalent-of-sabermetrician people means that Trestman would be someone inclined to a new school approach to the game, too.

But, man, if this totally new type of football coach ain't refreshing. Gone seem to be the days of pandering to average fan that is satisfied if not craves hearing coaches talk tough and in banal platitudes. The media is no longer treated as a necessary evil. (They are the spawn of Satan, but it's probably nice to have a coach pretend to respect them.)

Trestman breaks the coaching stereotype into tiny pieces (and then probably charts the pieces in a spreadsheet uploaded to Google Docs). And it's not just that he looks like your high school Geometry teacher.

"I told the team the first night, when you haze somebody, you take their ability to help you win," he said regarding his earliest interaction with his new team. "Everybody's here to help you win."

As seemingly every day we hear new examples and facets of abuse in organized sports, the Bears head coach without much fanfare nipped that issue in the bud early on. If not for the Richie Incognito/Jonathan Martin situation, we might not even know of Trestman's policies regarding respect in the locker room.

When he switched up some of the players' locker locations and talked about how teammates needed to form lifetime bonds and all that drippy coach's-book-on-life stuff, my eyes narrowed at times and rolled at others. These are grown men playing a violent game, I thought. This high school stuff doesn't work and might even be counterproductive.

Looks like I was wrong. That "high school stuff" seems to have prevented  the same high school stuff from happening that has shredded the Dolphins organization. Trestman's weirdness and big words and approach to running a football team is nothing like maybe any NFL franchise has seen before.

And it's working. Trestman's players respect him and play hard for him.

"One of the things I told coach Trestman is that the best compliment a player can give a coach is saying, 'Hey, I want to play for you,'" said cornerback Charles Tillman. "I wanted to play for Lovie Smith. I wanted to play for Dick Jauron. Guys that'll want to play for you, I think that's special. That's good. I want to play for coach Trestman."

The Bears are winning games. And doing so despite significant injuries, including a regular season-ender to Tillman and  a groin and ankle injury to Jay Cutler, a quarterback stigmatized as a prima donna and possibly uncoachable, yet a guy that Trestman seemed to be working very well with before he got hurt. The new offense is scoring points, and the team is breaking away from the Monsters of the Midway culture has produced merely one Super Bowl victory in franchise history and a tired, bad narrative and some ignorant fans otherwise.

So that record skip moment on Monday and what will probably be a few more while I get used to this Anti-Coach thing are not unwelcome. Though, with this new way of doing things I should probably update my metaphor to a WAV file or MP3.

Jeff Pearl
The author. (credit: Jeff Pearl)

Tim Baffoe attended the University of Iowa before earning his degree from Governors State University and began blogging at The Score after winning the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He enjoys writing things about stuff, but not so much stuff about things. When not writing for, Tim corrupts America's youth as a high school English teacher and provides a great service to his South Side community delivering pizzas (please tip him and his colleagues well). Got a comment for Tim? E-mail him at You can follow Tim's inappropriate brain droppings on Twitter @TimBaffoe , but please don't follow him in real life. He grew up in Chicago's Beverly To read more of Tim's blogs click here.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.