Posted January 16, 2013

Marc Trestman carries impressive CFL resume to Chicago

Chicago Bears, NFL Coaches
Marc Trestman had an overall record of 64-34, with two Grey Cups, in five seasons with the Alouettes. (Todd Korol/Reuters)

Marc Trestman had an overall record of 64-34, with two Grey Cups, in five seasons with the Alouettes. (Todd Korol/Reuters)

Former South Florida wide receiver S.J. Green had 62 catches during his entire four-year collegiate career. He had 61 just this season alone for the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes, after hauling in 87 receptions in 2011.

So Green, for one, is plenty convinced that his former Alouettes coach Marc Trestman is ready for his new role as head coach of the Chicago Bears.

“I feel like he’ll do very well,” Green said early Wednesday morning, speaking with SI.com right after the Bears announced they had tabbed Trestman to replace Lovie Smith. “He entered the West Coast offense into what we did. It was a hard transition … (but) the offense we ran is pretty much what you see in an NFL game.

“I can watch NFL teams and call out plays that we run. The offense we run, I’m sure, will be successful in the NFL. By choosing Chicago, (Trestman) feels like he has the personnel he needs.”

Trestman’s game plans certainly paid off with the Alouettes. In 2008, Trestman inherited a team that had gone 8-10 the year prior and promptly led them to an 11-7 mark. That season ended with a trip to the Grey Cup (the CFL’s Super Bowl equivalent), the first of three straight Alouettes appearances in the game. They won the title in both 2009 and ’10.

“What he’s done as a head coach in the CFL has been really impressive,” Andrew Bucholtz of Yahoo’s CFL blog, the 55-Yard Line, told SI.com via email. “He’s helped the Alouettes take a jump from a good team to a great one.

“General manager Jim Popp, who’s drawing NFL interest of his own, is also a part of that, but the Alouettes, and quarterback Anthony Calvillo in particular, have gone to a new level during Trestman’s tenure.”

News of Calvillo’s improvement ought to be music to Bears’ fans ears. No doubt, Chicago’s hiring of Trestman has a lot to do with the belief that he can push Jay Cutler to the next level.

Trestman was an NFL assistant coach, for various teams, from 1985-2004. During that run he worked with the likes of Bernie Kosar, Steve Young, Scott Mitchell, Jake Plummer and Rich Gannon — all of whom thrived, with Trestman’s help.

Calvillo threw for an average of 5,089 yards during Trestman’s five seasons with Montreal. And while the CFL and NFL games have their differences, Trestman’s offense could help Cutler and the Bears reach a high ceiling offensively.

“One thing he does is he uses his talent to his advantage,” Green said. “If he has a good receiver, he’s going to scheme his offense there –  he builds around what he has, from the quarterback on down.”

From a personality standpoint, Trestman may remind Bears fans of Smith — “I think there would certainly be some similarities to Lovie Smith,” Bucholtz said, “but they’re not completely identical” — though the most noticeable changes could come on the field, where the Bears have turned from the defense-first thinking of Smith to Trestman’s offensive-minded background.

As such, the trick for Trestman will be to catapult the Chicago offense forward without ruining the team’s identity as an opportunistic defensive outfit.

“This is a fair concern, and the Alouettes’ defense hasn’t been all that great lately,” Bucholtz said. “However, their defense has shone at times during Trestman’s tenure, and it was the primary reason for their 2010 Grey Cup victory.

“I think the key there is finding the right guy as defensive coordinator. This past year, Jeff Reinebold didn’t seem like the ideal fit (and the Alouettes parted ways with him after the season). If Trestman can find a talented defense coordinator whom he can work with, I wouldn’t worry about the defense too much.”

Bucholtz also pointed out that Trestman has been an “excellent motivator” while with the Alouettes, an aspect of Trestman’s coaching style that Green spoke highly of, as well.

Green played his college ball under the fiery, in-your-face Jim Leavitt. Trestman, he said, is a 180 from that approach.

“Two totally different coaches — both effective coaches, but Trestman is more of a laid-back coach,” Green said. “He’s not going to get in your face, he’s not going to cuss you out … if he needs to get his point across, he can and will.”

Even with all of Trestman’s CFL accolades, though, this constitutes a major roll of the dice for the Bears. Trestman has not coached in the NFL since 2004 and he has not called plays for an NFL team in more than a decade.

There is past evidence of the CFL-to-NFL jump working — former Bills coach Marv Levy went that route, as did ex-Vikings head man Bud Grant (who brought Trestman to the NFL as Minnesota’s running backs coach in 1985). This is a leap of faith from the Bears, nonetheless.

“There’s no dispute that the CFL and NFL are different games and that the NFL would be an adjustment for Trestman,” Bucholtz said. “But in some ways, I think it may be less of an adjustment than it would be for an NFL offensive coordinator or defensive coordinator to take over as a head coach.

“The game’s different, but the head coach’s responsibilities are very similar: put together a solid game plan, hire a good staff, get the most out of your staff and your players and get all the pieces to fit together.”

Trestman has done that, and then some, while with the Alouettes.

This gamble may backfire on the Bears down the road. You’ll have a hard time finding anyone who’s worked with Trestman predicting a flop, though.

“If you pay attention to what Trestman’s saying, he’s always saying something you can learn from,” Green said. “He’s been around the block a couple of times — he has his methods of doing things and making things work in his favor.”

20 comments
Jboss76
Jboss76

Marc Trestmen was so successful calling plays for the 49ers, back in the mid-90's that they fired him and the head coach Siefert. Trestmen was so smart that Bill Walsh, the guy that created the West Coast Offense, use to draw up plays for him, THAT HE REFUSED TO USE. Trestmen was in the CFL for a good reason, the NFL did not want him. I could justfy the firing of Lovie, because the offense was to damn conservative, but this guy offense is going to be just as bad and the defense want be as good. The Bears should have hired Monte Kiffin as a defensive coordinator, the gut Lovie learned defense from, for contuniuty and then found a better offensive mind to be a head coach. The GM, coach, and Cutler will all be gone in about three years. Projection 24-24 win loss record. 0-1 in playoffs. About 50 interceptions for Cutler over the next three seasons.

Kurtenbach12
Kurtenbach12

For those of you who don't know Marc Trestman, he's a guy who's had a tonne of success everywhere he's been and is one of the most respected men across not only the CFL but the NFL as well.  He's a smart and classy coach who if anyone can will be the man to get Jay Cutler to take the next step.  Both Cutler and Marshall have commented that they're ecstatic over this hiring.  For a league that seems to revel in recycling the likes of Norv Turner and Wade Phillips over and over this is a terrific move by a team that is taking less of a leap of faith than they are giving a proven winner his due.  I'm no Bears fan (far far from it), but I'm happy for the organization and for Trestman who in Steve Young's words was due for this opportunity 10-15 years ago.

VicDiGital
VicDiGital

So basically, hiring a CFL coach means that you get to go to four Super Bowls.  However, it also means you're going to lose all of them.  Is this an acceptable trade-off?

craig1
craig1

What a joke - the Bears get rid of a successful coach and go hire a guy from the CFL. Note to Bears, if he was worth a damn, he would have already been in the NFL.  Bears - 8 - 8 or worse next year. Ownership didnt give a damn what the players had to say when they got rid of Smith, which is a really stupid move. Yeah, the Bears are going to really play for this CFL guy - wow - has to be the dumbest ownership decision this year.

Mark V.1
Mark V.1

"This is a leap of faith from the Bears, nonetheless."

 

Are not all coaching hires a "leap of faith"?  Why is it that a coach can come up from the college game (e.g., Chip Kelly) and people look at it so differently?  Trestman has a ton of NFL experience from before his days in the CFL and now has proven head coaching experience as well.  He is just as much of a leap of faith as anybody else.

TimGrisham
TimGrisham

The Bears have been as dyed in the wool as any franchise around.  Phil Emery took the team in the right direction getting Brandon Marshall last off season and drafting Alshon Jeffrey.  Trestman will have way more imagination than run coming off the bus Lovie.  This hire took some guts and imagination.  Two things you can't say the Bears have had up until now.

Neil5
Neil5

 @Jboss76 Ask Jerry Rice and Rich Gannon how much they hated playing in his offense.  When a guy gets endorsements from HOF offensive players, I'm willing to give him a chance.  I do wish Marinelli stayed though for some continuity though.  They are an Oline away from being a true contender, and this is the year to fix that btwn FA and the draft.

BobKranz
BobKranz

 @Jboss76 You sound like an insider with all that information on Trestman.  How do you become an insider on your couch?

luvfoozball
luvfoozball

 @Jboss76 Your predictions are worthless. Bet your entire life's savings in Vegas using your predictions. Lets see how those turn out.

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

 @craig1 One division title and one playoff appearance in the past six years, and suddenly the guy is George Halas?

luvfoozball
luvfoozball

 @craig1 Yes, Lovie was soooo successful NOT making the playoffs 4 out of last 5 seasons. You should be particularly happy about those 8 out of 9 losses to the Packers.

marino.eccher
marino.eccher

 @Mark V.1 Agree totally. I've seen this same column in a couple of places, and I don't understand why people think this is such a crazy move. The NFL is overrun by groupthink - everybody wants hot coordinators and militant workaholics, and half of those don't work out. Why not try somebody a little different?

craig1
craig1

 @TimGrisham Stupid comment really - 10 - 6 is not something someone gets fired over. It's a knee jerk reaction. I don't thinkl your guts and imagination comments would play too well in the Bears locker.

Neil5
Neil5

 @craig1  @TimGrisham 

Going 10-6 after being 7-1 and then missing the playoffs for the 5th time in 6 years does get you fired.  Lovie proved that while he is a good D coordinator, he cannot handle an offense.  He cant even hire an OC (ex 3 in 5 yrs).

luvfoozball
luvfoozball

 @craig1  Actually you are the one who is stupid. You love mediocrity because you are supporting not going to the playoffs 4 out of last 5 seasons. Why dont you start supporting the Browns? Or wait.. the Cleveland Cavaliers. You will be right at home.

B8
B8

 @craig1  @TimGrisham

 And making the playoffs once in the last 6 years is something worth keeping your job over?  Get real!  The NFL is a business and it's not what you have done for me in the past but what have you done for me lately.  The Bears as a whole knew going into this season to keep Lovie Smith they needed to get to the playoffs.  Emry said that before the season started or Lovie was gone.  He had his pick of the litter the last few years on players and coaches and he was unable to turn around the organization.  Think before you post some stupid comment about a 10-6 record is something worth someone keeping their jobs.  I know CEO's of Fortune 100 organizations get fired for less than what Lovie is getting fired. 

C17_Bear
C17_Bear

Lovie said that the GB game was NOT a must win but the Lions game was.  Well they won their  "Must win game" and still missed the play offs.  Shouldn't Lovie have known that the Green Bay game was a must win?  Also, his clock management left something to be desired.  I liked Lovie, but I agree that it was time to move on.  Sorry Craig1.  Maybe it's misplaced loyalty or some other reason, but you're wrong on this one.  Lovie will find work and will do a very good job, but it his time was up in Chicago.  I will backtrack a little and say that if he was provided with a little talent on the Offensive line, we wouldn't be having this discussion.