After conducting an extensive search that reached 13 interviewees, Phil Emery has narrowed his search to three candidates. Bruce Arians, Marc Trestman and Darrell Bevell are the finalists to replace Lovie Smith according to widespread published reports.
The three finalists have made it clear that Emery’s directive on hiring a coach with an offensive past was his objective. Each coach brings a unique background and skill set to the job. Everyone has their preference on whom the Bears should hire. In a poll in the Chicago Tribune, Trestman currently holds a narrow lead over Ariens on whom should be the next head coach.
Bruce Arians, Currently Indianapolis Colts Offensive Coordinator
In difficult circumstances with the Colts this season, Arians proved he could be a Head Coach. Arians led the Colts to a 9-3 record as interim coach this season while Head Coach Chuck Pagano was out. Pagano missed the majority of the season to receive Chemotherapy for Leukemia.
Arians began his coaching career in 1975 as a graduate assistant at Virginia Tech a year after finishing his playing career there. It didn’t take him long to move up the ranks after a few stops as an assistant. He landed his only head coaching job at Temple at age 30. The Owls went 27-39 in his six seasons there.
He landed his first stint in the NFL after Temple as the Chiefs running backs coach for four seasons (1989-92). In his first season he helped Christian Okoye lead the league in rushing and earn first team all-pro. The Chiefs finished in the top ten in the NFL in rushing in Arians first three seasons and tenth another.
He spent four of the next five seasons in college before returning to the NFL permanently in 1998 as the Colts Quarterback coach. He tutored Peyton Manning through his first three seasons in the NFL. Under Arians, Manning was second team all-pro in 1999 and 2000 and the starter for the AFC in the 2000 Probowl.
He moved onto Cleveland as the offensive coordinator from 2001-2003 after leaving Indianapolis. The Browns offense did not have a lot of success during his tenure in Cleveland. They did however make the playoffs in 2002. That is the franchise’s only playoff appearance in their reincarnation. The used a big play offense to get there, finishing third in touchdown passes that season.
From there he moved on to Pittsburgh and his greatest NFL success until this season. Ariens was the wide receivers coach from 2004-06 before succeeding Ken Whisenhunt as the offensive coordinator. He helped Ben Roethlisberger become Pro Bowl Quarterback and build the Steelers into one of the NFL’s most dominant franchises again.
Arians helped develop a deep wide receiver core. It was under his tutelage that the Steelers moved from a run oriented offense under Bill Cowher to a more pass oriented one under Mike Tomlin.
Ariens coached under Cowher his last three seasons in Pittsburgh. They Steelers were a top five rushing offense during his first two seasons. In Cowher’s final year, they used a more balanced offense as the Steelers became the first sixth seeded team to win a Superbowl.
Arians was able to lean on a stout defense during his time in the Steel City. They finished first or second during first seasons as coordinator and fifth the other year.
They had four finishes in the top half of the NFL in TD passes and finished in the top ten in passing yards three times.
He helped Andrew Luck have a historic rookie season. The Colts finished sixth in the NFL in passing in 2012. Luck set several rookie records this season.
Ariens was able to help a young Colts team overcome several obstacles to have one of the most remarkable turnarounds in one season in NFL History. His leadership ability this season has shown he deserves a chance to be a head coach. Many have questioned why someone with Arians credentials has not gotten a chance yet. One thing holding him back might be that his is too nice according to the NFL’s network’s Ian Rapoport. Rapoport appeared on the Waddle and Silvy show on ESPN Radio this morning to discuss the Head Coaching search.
His success with Manning, Roethlisberger and Luck has to be attractive to the Bears. They gave up a lot to get Jay Cutler. Getting the most out of him and utilizing his talent has to be the most important thing going forward.
Marc Trestman Head Coach Montreal Alouettes
Marc Trestman began his coaching career as a volunteer assistant under Howard Schnellenberger at the University of Miami. After two seasons as a volunteer assistant, Trestman became the Quarterback coach in 1983. Under Trestman’s guidance, Kosar passed for 2,329 yards and 15 touchdowns as the Hurricanes won the national championship.
The following year, Kosar set a single season record and became (at the time) the Hurricanes all-time leader in passing yardage. Kosar turned pro and Trestman left to become the running backs coach with his home state Minnesota Vikings.
His first season was Bub Grant’s last. The Vikings finished 27th in rushing, but ninth in rushing touchdowns. They relied on a passing game that finished seventh, In his second season, the Vikings improved to 15th in the NFL in rushing. Trestman left Minnesota to move on to Tampa Bay for the 1987 season as the Buccaneers Quarterbacks coach.
In Tampa, Trestman was reunited with Vinnie Testaverde. The Buccaneers selected Testaverde with the top pick in the 1987 draft. He was coming off a Heisman trophy winning season with Miami in 1986. He was the backup to Kosar when Trestman was the Hurricanes QB coach in ‘83 and ‘84.
The Buccaneers relied on their passing game in 1987. They were fifth in attempts and 15th in yards. After one season at the Big Sombrero he moved on to Cleveland to be reunited with Kosar as the Browns Quarterbacks coach and their offensive coordinator.
He spent two years in Cleveland and was the offensive coordinator for the 1989 season. In his one season, Bernie Kosar set a franchise record with over 3,500 yards, Webster Slaughter also set a franchise receiving record with over 1,200 yards and the Browns finished in the top ten in passing. Marty Schottenheimer lost his job for failing to take the team to the Superbowl after the 1989 season. Trestman went back to the Vikings as their QB coach for two seasons.
Trestman then took three years off from football before becoming the offensive coordinator in San Francisco. He spent two seasons with the 49ers. They were a top five offensive overall and top five in passing in virtually every category in his two seasons by the bay.
Trestman left the 49ers when George Seifert was fired following the 1996 season. He went to Detroit to become their Quarterbacks coach. During his one season in Detroit he helped turn the Lions around from a 5-11 team in 1996 to 9-7 and a playoff berth in 1997. They finished the season fourth in points scored and second in yardage.
His next stop was Arizona. Trestman spent three seasons as the Cardinals Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks coach. It was here that his name began to heat up as a possible Head Coaching candidate. The offense finished a respectable 13th overall and eighth in passing in 1998, but fell to 30th overall and 27th and 17th in passing in 1999 and 2000.
Head Coach Vince Tobin was fired seven games into the 2000 season and Trestman left to become the Oakland Raiders Quarterback Coach and Offensive Coordinator for the 2001 season.
He was the QB coach in his first season with the Raiders. When Jon Gruden left for Tampa Bay for the 2002 season, the Raiders elevated Bill Callahan to Head Coach. Trestman took over his OC duties. The Raiders enjoyed their only season ranked in the top five in offense without Gruden in the last 30 years. They also made their only trip to the Superbowl since the 1983 season. Unfortunately for Trestman and the Raiders they lost to Gruden and the Buccaneers.
They led the league in total offense and passing and finished second in scoring. QB Rich Gannon was named first team All-Pro and was named the NFL MVP. After the Raiders faltered in 2004, the entire staff was let go. Trestman spent 2004 with the Dolphins. Dave Wannstedt didn’t last the season and Dolphins were bottom five in scoring and yards.
He then spent two seasons as North Carolina State’s offensive coordinator. After NCST, Trestman got his first chance to become a Head Coach with the Canadian Football League’s Montreal Alouettes.
Trestman has been a success in the CFL from the beginning. He led the Alouettes to the Grey Cup in his first season with the team. He won the Grey Cup in 2009 and 2010. He helped Anthony Calvillo to set the career record for passing yards in the CFL and to near league records in 2008, 09 and 10. Calvillo was the league MVP in 2008 and 09.
The Alouettes finished second in the CFL in passing in 2012. Calvillo was also second in the league
Like Arians, Trestman’s age might work against him. He just turned 57. Working in Trestman’s favor is that he helped tutor Bears Quarterbacks Jay Cutler and Jason Campbell during their workouts preparing for the NFL Draft.
This will be Cutler’s fourth Coordinator in five seasons with the Bears. He hasn’t had the opportunity to grow in one system like many of the great quarterbacks in recent NFL History. Getting a stable offensive system and a offensive minded Head Coach will provide him a chance to grow and to utilize the weapons the Bears have and acquire going forward.
Darrell Bevell Offensive Coordinator Seattle
Bevell is the least experienced of the three finalists for the Bears Head Coaching Job. As a player he led Wisconsin to their first Rose Bowl win and also became the first Wisconsin Quarterback to win multiple bowl games. In his three seasons leading the Badgers they were 21-10-4.
After four seasons of coaching in college, Bevell became an offensive assistant in Green Bay in 2000. He was their Quarterbacks coach from 2003-05 before leaving for Minnesota to become their offensive coordinator.
Bevell has proven he can lead led a variety of different offenses. In his second season with the Vikings, they finished first in the NFL in rushing yardage, touchdowns and yards per attempt. Adrian Peterson led the NFL in yards per game as a rookie and finished with 12 touchdowns. Backup Chester Taylor finished with over 800 yards and seven touchdowns.
In Bevell’s third season, the Vikings finished fifth in the league in rushing as Peterson led the league.
They acquired Brett Favre in the 2008-09 off-season. With a Quarterback to work with, the Vikings went to a more balanced offense. They finished fifth in total offense, second in points and in the top ten in both rushing and passing. Peterson led the league with 18 rushing touchdowns. If not for an ill-advised interception by Favre in the NFC Championship game, the Vikings might have advance to the Superbowl.
Bevell stayed through 2010 when Brad Childress was fired. He left there for Seattle. The Seahawks offense struggled in 2011 with poor quarterback play. They finished 23rd in points scored and 28 in offense.
The Seahawks signed Matt Flynn to be their Quarterback in 2012. When third round pick Russell Wilson out played Flynn in the preseason, Bevell and Pete Carroll went against conventional wisdom and started Wilson in the season opener.
After struggling through the first half of the season, Wilson came on and led the Seahawks to their first winning season since 2007. The Seahawks offense only finished 17th overall in 2012, but they were seventh in scoring and third in rushing. Although they were 27th in passing yards, they finished seventh in yards per attempt.
He transformed the Seahawks offense in one season. They were able to bring Wilson along slowly and eventually utilized his strengths as they caught fire late in the season. They won seven of their last eight and had a three game stretch late in the season where they scored 150 points.
Bevell has shown he can coach a variety of different styles. He is significantly younger that Arians or Trestman.
Emery has done a thorough job of narrowing down the candidates. Each has impressive credentials. They have all shown they can successfully run an NFL offense. They have all helped take their teams to Super Bowls and conference championship game.
A decision will likely come in the next week. The next head coach of the Bears will be a coach with an offensive background for the first time in nearly 30 years. Just how innovative the Bears offense will be will have to wait eight months.