Chicago Bears General Manager Phil Emery did not succumb to the league-wide consensus promoting Denver’s Mike McCoy as the “hot candidate” for a head coaching gig. He did not make the safe, David Haugh-approved (I know) decision to reward Bruce Arians’ ten-win season as interim head coach of the #Chuckstrong Colts by moving the 60 year-old lifetime football man into a larger office a few miles west. He did not, even after what felt like three dozen interviews, move in the direction of a young, hungry offensive coordinator like Mike Sullivan, Darrell Bevell or Rick Dennison.
Phil Emery hired Marc Trestman, the head coach of the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes.
As Rich Gannon and Steve Young have filled the airwaves in Chicago and beyond with verbal Valentines directed Trestman’s way, the man from above the border has transition in my mind from intriguing to essential. Here are a few quotes from Young pulled off the Twitter feed of ESPN Chicago’s Michael C. Wright:
Steve Young on Trestman: “He’s a phenomenal offensive mind. He is thoughtful. He’s not gonna scream at people. It’s time…If you have a willing participant, you could make some good music…Guys love him. Find some guys in Montreal that played for him and talk to him. Just a dynamic straight shooter.”
Here is Gannon from a report also on ESPN Chicago:
“He’s very innovative. He’s a terrific playcaller,” Gannon said. “He sees the game through the eyes of the quarterback. He played the position, he’s coached the position. He’s really an expert in that area. I think when you study Jay Cutler, here’s a guy that under Mike Martz was sacked more than any quarterback in the league; he got knocked around, and I don’t think he quite trusted the guys in front of him. That’s all got to get cleaned up, and you’ve got to bring in somebody who can work with the protections and clean up that part of it. Clean up his footwork, clean up the mechanics, and get him feeling good again back in the pocket. I think that’s what Marc does best.”
Those criticizing the Bears for “reaching” on a coach currently running an organization outside the country should be relieved if not persuaded by a Hall of Famer and MVP (under Trestman) endorsing the man’s credentials to lead a professional football team in the states.
I applaud this hire by Phil Emery for many reasons:
- It is the first significant movement by the Chicago Bears organization towards becoming a modern NFL franchise. This is an offense/passing league, a quarterback league and very few head coaching candidates have the quarterback coaching credentials of Trestman.
- Trestman has a short but important history with Jay Cutler. When they step into their first meeting room (in the next month or so) Trestman will not only be working with thirty year-old Cutty but also working with the memory of a strong-armed kid out of Vanderbilt.
- Yes it took place in Canada but Marc Trestman has led AN ENTIRE football team for five years and won two championships. Will that success translate immediately? Who knows. But it means Trestman has experience overseeing the entirety of a roster and managing a full coaching staff. If you discount that fact you fail to acknowledge one of the most difficult transitions from coordinator to head coach.
- It is NOT the safe choice. It is NOT the easy choice. And being that Phil Emery had Trestman at Halas Hall for much of Sunday and Monday without anyone – Dickerson, Zaidman, Jensen, Biggs – knowing means how he’s perceived in the local media is not near the top of his Things I’d Like to Achieve list.
Find me another candidate – anywhere in the football world – who fits the Bears bill to this extent.
Now the speculation ends and the analysis begins. How will Trestman fill out his offensive coaching staff? Will Rod Marinelli be retained to run the defense? What types of skill players will Emery bring in to fit the scheme Trestman wants to run? And most importantly, how will the quarterback and coach develop and grow together over the course of their first spring, summer and season together?
Trestman has waited his entire career for the opportunity to be a head coach in the NFL. Waited since he was Jim Kelly’s quarterback coach under Howard Schnellenberger at the University of Miami in 1981. What he does with that opportunity will be the definitive question of his coaching career. The answers start now.