Wake up, Bob from Berwyn. The Chicago Bears have a surprise for you. Marc Trestman is your next head football coach ... eh?
Over the next seven months, with the heaviest concentration coming over the course of the next few days, folks like Bob and his brethren—talk radio callers—will take to the airwaves in droves to put their seal of approval, or, more likely, voice their displeasure on this hire; their accents often ranging from somewhere between Elwood Blues and Bernie Mac.
Walt from West Englewood wants to know why in the hell they had to go get “some CFL guy.” Steve from Skokie thinks they would have been “better off keeping Lovie.” Pete from Plainfield gets nuked halfway through his profanity-laced tirade.
There’s Rick from River North on the opposite fringe, who thinks it’s “the most progressive hire since Bill Walsh.” Then, of course, there’s Chris from Crystal Lake who wishes those “cheap-ass McCaskey’s” would have just signed that gazillion-dollar check for Bill Cowher.
Meanwhile, Ryan from Morris doesn’t have a damn clue. However, he knows that he has to have some faith in Phil Emery to make the decision he deems best. He also knows that, regardless of what happens, the consequences are clear.
So eager we are to inject our opinion, but the stark reality is that Phil Emery understands the stakes. The responsibility isn’t lost on him.
And you know what? Despite being conditioned by 27 years of despair—27 years of Dave Wannstedt and Curtis Enis and Terry Shea—you have to trust him.
As fans, over the last two weeks, we’ve looked over the credentials and picked our favorites. We’re definitive as to who is or isn’t qualified by standards we’ve created in our own heads. However, while it doesn’t exactly take an Ernie Acorsi to identify a pattern of success, these candidates never really amount to more than walking, talking resumes.
Bruce Arians is the old guy who piggybacked the emotion of Chuck Pagano’s cancer into startling success in his first real chance at the helm. Darrell Bevell is the brash, untested young genius. Marc Trestman is that dude from Canada.
Their work histories become their identity in our eyes because that’s all we know. However, to Phil Emery there’s something more.
To Emery, Trestman isn’t just some foreigner who’d been exiled to a substandard league with substandard players playing in front of free healthcare-wielding, maple syrup-dealing, Molson-drinking (dare I say substandard at risk of defending both almost-Canadians and real Canadians in the same week) fans.
Hell, somewhere during the interview process, Emery was probably able to unearth that, though he cuts it close, Trestman isn’t really a Canadian at all. I know. It was a pretty big relief to me, as well.
And, while there’s no questioning that the CFL is substandard to the National Football League in every way, Marc Trestman is far from bereft of an NFL pedigree. He tutored Bernie Kosar to success at the University of Miami in the early-80s and parlayed that prosperity into a job as a quarterback coach for his hometown Vikings shortly thereafter. He was an offensive coordinator in Cleveland for a year in 1989, back when Cleveland wasn’t where coaches went to die.
He would later be given the reins to a potent offense in San Francisco in 1995 and, with Steve Young and Jerry Rice in his stable, led the 49ers to the first and third rated scoring offenses in the NFL in his two seasons, respectively. He led the lowly Cardinals to their first postseason victory in 51 years with Jake Plummer at the helm of his offense in 1998, and he piloted the Oakland Raiders and Rich freaking Gannon to a Super Bowl as their offensive coordinator in 2002.
Yet, for whatever reason, he was passed over for head coaching jobs and eventually did a year as the offensive coordinator at North Carolina State, where he was partially responsible for offering Russell Wilson, before heading north for Canada. Now, after leading Montreal to the playoffs in each of his five seasons and winning back-to-back Grey Cups in 2009 and 2010, he’s finally being afforded his chance in the NFL.
I’d be lying if I said Marc Trestman was my favorite candidate, but, even with the infinite trust issues we’ve all developed in regard to Halas Hall over the years, I trust Phil Emery’s judgment. To be honest, I don’t have a choice.
Candidates are nothing more than pieces of paper with faces in my world. Despite all the confidence and conviction he conveys as he plods down the Eisenhower for work this morning, that’s all they are to Bob from Berwyn, too.
At the end of the day, Emery’s boots are on the ground, and he’s at the head of the chair in the meetings. The decision is ultimately his. The successes or failures will be, too.