What Does Marc Trestman's Hiring Mean for the Chicago Bears?
The long search is over. Bears fans, you have your new head coach (per ESPN's Michael C. Wright).
Newly minted head coach Marc Trestman wasn't even on any radars when this process began, not even getting a mention in pieces like this one by Albert Breer and Daniel Jeremiah on NFL.com.
However, GM Phil Emery was dedicated to several things, not the least of which was looking at some "outside the box" candidates.
Trestman is certainly that.
After working in the NFL as a running back coach starting in 1985 with the Minnesota Vikings, he moved to Tampa Bay as a quarterbacks coach, then to Cleveland for the same job. He ended up as the Browns' offensive coordinator in 1989, when the team reached the AFC Championship Game and quarterback Bernie Kosar threw for what would be the second-highest yardage and touchdown totals of his career.
Trestman continued to bounce around the league, including (according to Wikipedia) three years when he was out of the league altogether.
He was Oakland's offensive coordinator for its run at the Super Bowl in 2002, the year Rich Gannon won the MVP and the Raiders led the NFL in total offense as well as passing offense.
A few years later, Trestman had done a stint through the college ranks where he tried to recruit Russell Wilson (h/t to Sigmund Bloom on that one), something he wanted to do again when he was head coach of the Montreal Alouettes.
The stint in the Canadian Football League led to three Grey Cup appearances (two wins) and turned the Alouettes around in a very short time.
Trestman also is (maybe was after today) an NFL Draft Training coach who has worked with players like Brandon Weeden, Tim Tebow and Jay Cutler.
With the hiring of Trestman, the Bears are getting what appears to be a potential diamond in the rough. A guy who has been talked about for spots before (he interviewed for the Indianapolis job last year) who has worked with a ton of different quarterbacks and was successful with both stints in the NFL as an offensive coordinator.
He also has head coaching experience. As much as I loved Mike McCoy, he didn't.
While it remains to be seen if he can handle the likes of Brandon Marshall and Cutler, Marshall is excited and Cutler already knows him, so Bears fans should feel confident.
Here's something else Chicago fans should be pleased about—part of his success in Montreal was due to a tremendous amount of work with the offensive line.
According to Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times, before Trestman arrived, the Montreal Alouettes allowed their quarterback to be sacked on just over 10 percent of his dropbacks.
In Trestman's first year (and according to Jensen, with basically the same guys) that number dropped to just over three percent.
In one season, the Alouettes went from allowing 68 sacks to just 22.
Trestman favors protecting the quarterback because he knows, if you can't keep him upright, all the ability in the world is useless.
He's a quarterbacks guy and that's great because he has a chance to push Cutler to greater heights than ever before. He's going to fit the offense to his quarterback, not the quarterback to his offense.
It's even more vital that he is dedicated to making sure his quarterback doesn't get killed under center. Let's face it, there are times that seemed like an afterthought over the last decade.
When he has that settled, expect a West Coast offensive scheme in the same vein as that of the Packers, but I would guess with some more running since they have something Green Bay lacks in Matt Forte.
West Coast offense tends to use short passes to set up longer ones (and longer runs) by stretching the defense. In its most famous incarnation with Bill Walsh and the San Francisco 49ers, it was all about finding favorable personnel matchups.
It's a highly detailed and planned offense based on a lot of timing and a lot of those personnel matchups I just mentioned. The Bears have a big matchup issue for teams in Brandon Marshall, so expect Trestman to exploit the defense with Marshall a lot.
Especially since so much of the West Coast offense is based on yardage after the catch. With both Marshall and Forte, the moment after they catch the ball can be as dangerous for defenses as the moments before.
Yeah, you need to make sure they don't catch the ball cleanly in space, but even when they don't, you have to make sure they don't run you over after.
The WCO is a timing offense and the ball comes out quick. It'll be a big help for Cutler and the offense while the offensive line gets fixed.
While there is no true WCO team anymore—so many things are labeled as such and the concepts have changed considerably—its tenets remains the same.
Quick passes, stretch the field, run underneath or pass long.
There will be some tweaks—after all, we expect Trestman to shape the offense around Cutler, not the other way around. The presence of Forte will, again, dictate some differences from what Trestman ran in Canada.
However, the basis will probably remain the same.
Expect some rough moments, as this is now Cutler's fourth offensive scheme since coming to Chicago.
However, it's an encouraging change of pace.
Finally, a question I keep hearing is, can he handle a room? Can he lead NFL players?
Trestman seems to have a huge and loyal following among his former players. Guys like former Alouettes offensive lineman and current Winnipeg Rifles head coach Ryan Karhut (who he cut in his second year as head coach) speaks highly of him in the Jensen article I referenced above.
Rich Gannon, who you will recall had Trestman as his offensive coordinator during his MVP year, also spoke highly of him.
All of those anecdotes are strong endorsements that he can work with players. If guys he's cut and guys he hasn't coached in decades will stand up for him to this day, that says something.
However, an even better sign is that before he's stepped in, he has the Bears players excited.
Brandon Marshall tweeted out his excitement and told Jensen later that he had spoken with multiple other players who were equally enthusiastic about Trestman's hiring.
Of course, everything is new and shiny. It won't be tested until people start hitting people this spring and summer.
Is this a gamble? Sure, because as much success as Trestman has had, it was either several years ago or in Canada. The transfer of CFL experience isn't always an easy or effective one, and what worked there or 10 years ago might not work in today's NFL.
That said, it's a brilliant gamble and shows a tremendous amount of confidence from Emery—something which is very nice in a general manager.
Risk or not, it appears as though the Bears are starting 2013 off on the right foot.
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