Editor’s Note: Re-posting the Q&A we did with Andrew Bucholtz from Yahoo! Canada’s CFL blog 55 Yard Line when Jimmy Johnson scooped everyone and reported Marc Trestman would be the next Chicago Bears head coach.
When news broke this morning that Montreal Alouttes head coach Marc Trestman could be named the next head coach of the Chicago Bears, I decided to reach across the border to get a little more info about the Bears prospective coach. The rumors of his imminent hiring have since been denied, but it certainly sounds like Trestman is a viable candidate and could very well be a finalist, so I might as well share this Q&A that Andrew Bucholtz, editor of Yahoo! Sports Canada’s 55 Yard Line, was kind enough to respond to.
1. Let’s get the big one out of the way first. Trestman has been coaching in the CFL for the last few season, with great success I might add. Do you think he’d need to adapt his schemes to adjust from a move back to the NFL? Can his offense only work with 11 men instead of the CFL’s 12?
There are obviously schematic differences in an 11-a-side, four-down game, so don’t expect a Trestman offence in the NFL to look exactly like what he’s been doing in the CFL. However, it’s worth noting that Trestman is no stranger to successful NFL offences; his best one might be the 2002 Raiders, where he made Rich Gannon NFL MVP and led the league in total yards per game, but he’s also found remarkable offensive success in stints in San Francisco, Detroit and Arizona.
Trestman’s best NFL offences have had some elements of his CFL style (throwing a lot, focus on short, high-percentage passes, lots of multi-receiver sets), and I’d expect that trend to continue; it’s notable that the NFL as a whole has moved more towards that style since Trestman’s last stint there, too. It’s also worth mentioning that his CFL offence bears more similarities to an NFL one than the offences most CFL coaches run. For example, Trestman’s frequently used Patrick Lavoie as a tight end (to great success), a position seldom seen in the CFL. Going back to the NFL would be an adjustment, but Trestman’s past NFL success plus the general nature of his offence would enable him to make the jump just fine in my opinion.
2. Describe Trestman’s coaching style. Is he a player’s coach or a disciplinarian?
I’d say Trestman has elements of both styles. He’s generally very well-regarded by his players, and he’s often refused to throw them under the bus; a case in point came in after this year’s East Final, where he defended receiver Brian Bratton following a drop that cost the Alouettes the game. However, Trestman doesn’t let players run roughshod over him. An interesting case in point there is famed trash-talking defensive back Dwight Anderson: Anderson came to Montreal as a big-name free agent, but rubbed many the wrong way at first with his attitude and penalties. Trestman clamped down on him hard, and notably enough, turned him into a solid contributor to the team. Trestman really seems capable of getting players to believe in him and in the team.
3. What do you think coach Trestman could do for Bears quarterback Jay Cutler? Could he finally be the one who unlocks all that crazy talent and helps elevate Jay into elite quarterback status?
To me, it’s the Cutler situation that might make Trestman most appealing as the Bears’ head coach. Trestman’s found remarkable success with less-than-top-tier quarterbacks (Gannon, Scott Mitchell, Jake Plummer, etc) and has always been able to get the most out of quarterback talent, so giving him a player with Cutler’s ability seems like a perfect match. Also notable: Trestman’s emphasis on quick drops and short passes would likely lead to Cutler getting hit less.
Keep in mind that Montreal’s quarterback is 40-year-old Anthony Calvillo, who’s taken remarkably little punishment over the last few years. Some of that’s on the Alouettes’ impressive offensive line, but Trestman’s system also offers quarterbacks decent protection if they can make quick reads and throws.
4. In his press conference where he outlined his requirements for the next Bears coach, Phil Emery talked about having a guy who’s good on his feet and good with the media. How is coach Trestman with the media?
I’d say Trestman’s very capable around the media. He’s not a Rex Ryan type who always wants the spotlight, but he doesn’t shy away from questions. In my dealings with him, he’s been insightful and hasn’t used a lot of clichés. Media relations isn’t a huge focus for him, but he understands the importance of of it.
5. If Trestman were to get the job, do you think he’d keep Rod Marinelli as Defensive Coordinator to have some continuity on that side of the ball, where the Bears have had a good measure of success or would he want to bring his guys in for a fresh start?
It’s tough to tell. Keeping Marinelli would seem like a strong possibility given the Bears’ defensive success this past year, but Trestman does have plenty of impressive contacts from his years in the NFL, the NCAA and the CFL, and he might want his own guy. If he does bring in his own guy, though, it’s unlikely it would be someone from the Alouettes; they just hired a new defensive coordinator out of the CIS (Canadian university football) ranks, who’s unlikely to be seen as a legitimate NFL guy at this point in time. To me, Trestman would be more likely to keep Marinelli or bring in another NFL guy he’s previously worked with.
Thanks again to Andrew and be sure to check out his blog 55 Yard Line on Yahoo! Sports Canada