The Chicago Bears came into this off-season with a giant mess of candidates lined up for their head coaching vacancy. Phil Emery scoured the United States, interviewing coaches at every stop. He talked to some of the newest and brightest minds in the NFL today including Mike McCoy, Tom Clements and Darrell Bevell. Emery also interviewed the hot coaching commodities like Bruce Arians, who in Chuck Pagano's absence this year took an Indianapolis team from 2-14 to the playoffs.
The criteria for the search stemmed from the lack of any consistent offensive production throughout the 2012 season. It came from a debilitating Jay Cutler and his lopsided play. The Bears, under Phil Emery, finally noticed a rapidly growing trend in the NFL: having a quarterback with the ability to make decisions, and a coach who can fundamentally work with that quarterback and develop him into a weapon.
Emery went from east to the west but ultimately ended up heading north to the great nation of Canada to find Marc Trestman, who at the start of the search seemed like one of the most unlikely candidates to land the job. Trestman has worked with Cutler before, including a number of other all-star QBs. He also helped to fix the Montreal Alouettes’ offensive line problems and went on to win two CFL championships.
Trestman has been endorsed by some of the best players in the history of the NFL; Jerry Rice, for example. He has also been brutally shot down by guys like Tim Brown. Trestman's track record is a head-scratcher, and after nine years of being out the League, to land a head coaching job in one of the largest metropolitan areas in America? HUGE HEAD-SCRATCHER.
Trestman is a risk. Simple as that.
Now I've read blog posts and newspapers, and I’ve listened to tons of radio, all of which have very different takes on the hire. I've even heard little kids (bear cubs, if you will) on the train throw this hire under the bus asking, "What is a CFL?"
Phil Emery is a lover of football. You can tell that by his intense work ethic and dedication to finding the right guy for the job. You can tell by his thoroughness during the interview process. Emery was not looking for the logical choice so that the people of Chicago could sleep at night. Emery was looking for the absolute right choice. And this hire will define his career as the Bears’ GM. It is a hire that could help him achieve his goals or lead to his demise.
Emery has a lot at stake in this new head coach.
The most logical choice among the three finalists was either Bevell or Arians. Both guys were major contributors to playoff teams this season. Both guys helped mold an offense around their quarterback. The one overwhelming advantage they had over Trestman was the fact that they were already inside the NFL while Trestman was busy punting the ball on third down. Nine years Trestman has been absent from the League.
But yet again, Emery went with his gut. He knows Trestman has coached Super Bowl champions. He knows he has the expertise and knowledge to fix the problems associated with the Bears’ offense. For Emery, he knows this team is close, so he specifically went out a picked a coach who could directly fill the void that Lovie Smith left behind. Trestman might not be the logical choice—hey, Phil Emery might be insane—but the fans and, most important of all, the players have to trust this decision.
Marc Trestman did bring over a flurry of qualified coaches to help him fix the broken offensive line and help the Bears’ special teams stay effective. Chicago lost a gem in Dave Toub but replaced him with a more than qualified coach in Joe DeCamillis. They also lost Rod Marinelli, who, outside of Lovie Smith, was the biggest loss for the organization yet. Trestman also fired, essentially, all of the offensive staff.
He cleaned house. It's his staff and the people he feels comfortable with. And now it's all on this current regime to fix the problems the last one couldn’t.