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Trestman credits offensive line for his gutsy fourth-down call

Chicago Bears v Green Bay Packers Getty Images

Bears head coach Marc Trestman made what may have been the gutsiest call of the year in the NFL when he went for it on fourth and inches on his own 33-yard line with 7:50 remaining, getting a first down that served as the Bears’ single biggest play of their win over the Packers.

That first down was a huge reward for Trestman’s gamble: It allowed the Bears to sustain a long drive that chewed seven more minutes off the clock and ended with the field goal that gave the Bears their final score in a 27-20 win. But it was also a huge risk: If the Packers had stopped the Bears, they would have needed to go only 33 yards to score the go-ahead touchdown, and even if the Packers hadn’t gained a single yard on offense they could have hit a field goal to bring the game within a point, with plenty of time left.

Most coaches would have punted in that situation. In fact, according to Chase Stuart of Pro Football Reference, Trestman’s call was the first time in more than two years that a team went for it on fourth down in the fourth quarter in its own territory in a game they were winning. And if you want to find an example of a coach going for it on fourth down that deep in his own territory while winning in the fourth quarter, you have to go all the way back to Bill Belichick’s famous failed fourth-down attempt against the Colts in 2009.

So why did Trestman go for it? He framed it as a show of confidence in his offensive line.

They have done a good job of getting better each week,” Trestman said of his linemen. “Our guys worked really hard this week to prepare.”

Bears right tackle Jordan Mills said the offensive linemen were excited that the coach was putting the game on their backs.

“That means that the coach trusts us,” Mills said. “He had tremendous confidence in us.”

Trestman had faith in his line, but he also had faith in running back Matt Forte. And Forte had to do some nifty running to pick up the first down: Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk and safety Morgan Burnett both had a shot at Forte behind the line of scrimmage but weren’t quite able to get to him before Nate Palmer finally took him down after he had already picked up the first down.

It was a good play by Forte, but most importantly it was a brilliant call by Trestman. If Trestman had played it “safe” and chosen to punt, he really wouldn’t have been playing it so safe at all: There’s nothing safe about handing the ball back to the other team with more than half of the fourth quarter left to play. But most coaches would have punted if for no other reason than they’d be ripped by fans and the media (as Belichick was) if they failed to pick up the first down.

Trestman made a great call. And his offense did its job, and delivered a win for the Bears.

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33 Responses to “Trestman credits offensive line for his gutsy fourth-down call”
  1. jpanders says: Nov 5, 2013 7:08 AM

    Not sure it was the right call with Seneca Wallace playing qb for the other team.

  2. computojon says: Nov 5, 2013 7:08 AM

    I’m not sure it was a great call, because if Forte hadn’t picked up the first down it would be considered a terrible call. Either way, your headline of “gutsy call” is on-target. And “gutsy” is the right approach to football (as well as life in general.)

  3. jojopuppyfish says: Nov 5, 2013 7:15 AM

    More coaches should go for it on Fourth and Inches regardless of where they are on the football field. A qb sneak should get you the first down.
    I’ve almost never seen a qb stopped on a sneak

  4. topshelf25 says: Nov 5, 2013 7:22 AM

    As a bears fan, I was a little confused why he didn’t just challenge the spot of the ball. Instead he wasted a timeout to draw up the play. It looked as if Bennett may have gotten that extra inch a he rolled of the defender so by challenging the spot you would essentially give yourself a chance to save the timeout and not have to make that gutsy forth down call. He could of drew up the fourth down play while the officials reviewed the previous play. Let’s not praise Trestman quite yet.

  5. johngaltwho says: Nov 5, 2013 7:36 AM

    Crestman credits the injury to Aaron Rodgers as the only reason the Bears could stay within three scores of The Packers. The players and coaches are above making excuses but fans can acknowledge reality.

  6. 5046packer says: Nov 5, 2013 7:39 AM

    The problem with QB sneaks is ball security…

  7. ttommytom says: Nov 5, 2013 7:47 AM

    Garza pulling almost cost them.

    PS

    I also agree, the spot of the ball should have been challenged.

  8. howiehandles says: Nov 5, 2013 7:49 AM

    “More coaches should go for it on Fourth and Inches regardless of where they are on the football field.”

    Don’t take the stats from the Madden game. Those still aren’t real.

  9. joetoronto says: Nov 5, 2013 7:53 AM

    “Trestman made a great call. And his offense did its job, and delivered a win for the Bears.”

    If they don’t make it, is it still a “great call”?

  10. steelersaregodsteam says: Nov 5, 2013 7:55 AM

    That was all Forte. Two guys shot into the backfield nearly instantly.

  11. chicagobtech says: Nov 5, 2013 8:01 AM

    @topshelf25

    My guess is when Trestman called the time out, while he was going over plays with McCown the team’s replay coach (not sure if that’s his title, but you get the idea) was going over whatever views he had. If he didn’t feel confident watching the different angles then Trestman was going to run the play. If he did feel confident then Trestman would have thrown the red flag.

    Yes, it means using a timeout on a successful challenge. But given what was going on at that time of the game it would have been a good use of the timeout.

  12. bradgfromthebu says: Nov 5, 2013 8:13 AM

    Man, the Bears looked bad. How is it possible that they even let GB stay in that game with Seneca Wallace at QB. That should’ve been a blowout.

    Also…any Bears fans out there just fine with Cutler not coming back any time soon? When’s the last time a Chicago QB looked that good against the Packers?

  13. ihaterogergoodell says: Nov 5, 2013 8:41 AM

    The difference is, the spot of the ball WAS accurate. So while challenging it could would be similar to just calling a timeout if the ruling was confirmed, Trestman would have lost a challenge in a vary tight game with a divisional rival. I was ok with how he managed the situation.

  14. demjoneses says: Nov 5, 2013 8:45 AM

    @topshelf25

    I see where you’re coming from but Bennett didn’t get a clear first down and you’d need conclusive evidence that it was a first down. Had they challenged they would have lost a timeout and a challenge opposed to just a timeout. I don’t blame them for not taking the challenge since the refs would have stuck with the spot on the field, I didn’t see enough to overturn it.

  15. thompsonway says: Nov 5, 2013 8:47 AM

    God, I loved the call. I was sitting with a packers fan, and the call / resulting play drove a stake in their heart.
    In the end, I trusted the O line more than I trusted the D line.

  16. habsfanatic says: Nov 5, 2013 8:48 AM

    I think the main reason he went for it is that he didn’t think a Seneca Wallace led Packers offense would be able to beat him even if they had turned it over on fourth down.

    No way he goes for that if Aaron Rodgers is still playing.

  17. Gordon says: Nov 5, 2013 8:57 AM

    Loved the call. I think this is what more coaches should do. The Bears D was getting gashed in the run all night. Better to try and squeak a few more plays by getting an inch & a first down.

  18. doubleogator says: Nov 5, 2013 9:00 AM

    Gutsy call yes-great call, debatable at best…

  19. oxycode30 says: Nov 5, 2013 9:05 AM

    Trestman is a helluva coach and we’re fortunate to have him leading our team. There’s no doubt that – unlike Lovie Smith – he knows the rulebook, understands clock management and has the self-confidence to think outside the box.

    If only our defense would show up more often… and our safeties play like professionals…

  20. freebird2011 says: Nov 5, 2013 9:05 AM

    If it had been Aaron Rodgers at the helm for the Packers instead of Seneca Wallace, I wonder how brave Trestman would have been in that circumstance?

    Just wonderin….

  21. dezno24 says: Nov 5, 2013 9:19 AM

    Hats off to Trestman and Kromer for getting rid of the dead weight on the o-line to be able to make calls like this. If you don’t have a line, you don’t have a legit offense. Too bad our run defense have been exposed to many times along with the sorriest saftey in the NFL in Conte.

  22. nwfisch says: Nov 5, 2013 9:27 AM

    You gotta believe in your guys to get a link. If they didn’t, the Bears didn’t deserve to win.

  23. griblets says: Nov 5, 2013 9:36 AM

    @chicagobtech says:
    Nov 5, 2013 8:01 AM

    My guess is when Trestman called the time out, while he was going over plays with McCown the team’s replay coach (not sure if that’s his title, but you get the idea) was going over whatever views he had. If he didn’t feel confident watching the different angles then Trestman was going to run the play. If he did feel confident then Trestman would have thrown the red flag.

    ——————

    But if you’re considering a challenge, and you’re going to call a timeout anyway, why not just challenge? Even if you lose the challenge, you’ve had time for the timeout. If you take a timeout, then challenge, and lose the challenge, then you’ve lost two timeouts.

  24. realitypolice says: Nov 5, 2013 9:41 AM

    One other thing to consider is Trestman’s confidence that if they don’t convert his defense would have kept Green Bay’s offense out of the end zone. Seneca Wallace wasn’t exactly marching them up and down the field.

  25. fringetastic says: Nov 5, 2013 10:01 AM

    PFT thinks that coaches care about what the fans and media think. When coaches make that decision to play it safe, they do it because they think it what is most likely to help the team win. Any coach who worries about what the talk radio sheep say doesn’t deserve to be a coach.

  26. immafubared says: Nov 5, 2013 11:13 AM

    The way the Pack d was playing, this call was a no brainer. If they would have punted does anyone think for a second Wallace would have moved the team down field for a victory anyways.

  27. joemammy says: Nov 5, 2013 11:29 AM

    Chud and the Browns do this every week. Where have you been?

  28. deweyaxewound says: Nov 5, 2013 11:29 AM

    johngaltwho says:
    Nov 5, 2013 7:36 AM
    Crestman credits the injury to Aaron Rodgers as the only reason the Bears could stay within three scores of The Packers. The players and coaches are above making excuses but fans can acknowledge reality.
    ________________________________

    Okay, so let’s “acknowledge some reality”:

    Rodgers didn’t get hurt while surfing, did he? – so you can credit the injury to Rodgers to the excellent play by Shea McClellin.

    Bears were ALSO without their starting QB. And two Pro Bowl cornerstones of the defense in Melton and Briggs (and DJ Williams, and Nate Collins, and Kelvin Hayden…)

    “Next man up” is the mantra I’ve heard repeatedly from Packers fans over the years. In the NFL, depth counts – the quality of your back-ups is just as important as the quality of your starters.

    If you’re going to revel in all the praise about how smart and great TT and MM are when things go right, you have to accept the same responsibility when things don’t go so well. The failure of GB to have a Plan B is on them.

    Finally, was Aaron Rodgers going to play defense in the 4th quarter? Was he somehow going to stop the Bears from going on a dominating 9 minute clock-killing drive in the 4th? No – give credit where it’s due: to McCown, Forte, the Bears o-line, coaching, and even the d-line, for finally showing up and locking down the win.

    No excuses – football is a team sport, and the Bears were the better TEAM last night.

    p.s. For someone with John Galt in their name, I’d think you’d have a little better of understanding of what “taking responsibility” means.

  29. iowahbr says: Nov 5, 2013 12:44 PM

    Trestman deserves credit for this call either way. So many coaches fail to realize the real value of having possession of the ball as the best defense in this pass crazy/50 yard field goal is a chip shot era. Given the clock time and the score the best defense was not an extra 35 yards of ground but a chance to keep possession of the ball. Shocking to read one of the above posts about how rarely this happens when a team is leading in close games in the NFL but most teams still call conservatively when they have any lead at all in the NFL. Makes for some great 4th quarter comebacks but not sure if it’s correct..

  30. completefan says: Nov 5, 2013 1:05 PM

    Guy doesn’t have two Grey Cup rings for nothing.

  31. topshelf25 says: Nov 5, 2013 1:49 PM

    Even if he challenged and lost, he would still have 1 more challenge with only 4 minutes until the two minute warning? Is this correct that you get two challenges per game?

  32. Waffle 2.0 says: Nov 5, 2013 2:06 PM

    anyone going to give the fullback credit for saving the play? No? Didn’t think so, amateur hour.

  33. larryboodry says: Nov 5, 2013 8:52 PM

    Been a Bears fan 40 years, and that was the gutsiest call I’ve ever seen by an NFL HC.

    But here’s the genius of it…If you punt, chances are GB runs their own time-killing drive with Lacy to take the lead with hardly any time left…If Forte gets stuffed, it would take less time for GB to score, giving the Bears more time to respond…And, if you make it, all is right with the world.

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