The Chicago Bears have never been the “cream of the crop,” let’s say, offensively other than a few arbitrarily special years. Rather, their success has come from fantastic defense and the cold weather and blah, blah, blah. As a Bears fan, I’ve heard all that crap, and to be completely honest, I’m sick of it.
The NFL today is an offensively-driven league. That doesn’t mean that defense isn’t important, but saying that “defense wins championships” just isn’t true any longer. You need a defense that can keep you in games, and an offense that can outscore the likes of the New Orleans Saints, Denver Broncos, New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers because they have quarterbacks who literally cannot be stopped the way the league is set up now.
Because of this, the philsophy has started to change in Chicago, thanks in large-part to second-year GM Phil Emery, who fired former-head coach Lovie Smith on Black Monday (first Monday after last Sunday of the regular season) which happened to be New Year’s Eve this past December. Then, 17 days later, Emery hired Marc Trestman. Everyone’s first reaction, “Who?”
20 years ago, heck, even 10 years ago, Bears fans would’ve stormed the streets after hearing this. They weren’t ready for something like this, however, that has changed. We’ve finally moved away from preaching defense and have started to beg for offense. Mostly, it’s because as a fan, you just get sick of watching other teams do things that look so simple such as a halfback screen or even a quick slant on first down to set up an easy second-and-two situation, while your team struggles just to get a first down every once in a while.
Granted, a lot of that had to do with the personnel, but finally, finally the Bears have seen the light and have moved away from their past. Now the focus is on offense, and this coach that almost no one had heard of before the past few months is the key.
Now, as the majority of fans have learned, Trestman is a man who has been coaching for a very long time. He was in the NFL for nearly 20 years as a quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator.
Suffice to say, everywhere Trestman has been in the last 15-20 years, the offense has been fantastic, especially when he was calling the plays.
In 1995, he joined the San Francisco 49ers as the OC and QB coach. That year, Steve Young had an amazing season, Jerry Rice broke the record for receiving yards in one year (which Calvin Johnson now holds) and the Niners won a Super Bowl. After successes the next several years with different teams, he ended up in Oakland in 2001. An aged Rich Gannon would win the MVP and the Oakland Raiders made it to the Super Bowl, however, losing to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Those were the two major highlights of his career at those coaching positions.
However, he wanted to be a head coach, so he went to the Canadian Football League because he couldn’t find the opportunity in the NFL.
He was named coach of the Montreal Alouettes at the end of 2007, and the team saw marked improvement immediately, especially on offense.
With the move to Canada, Trestman had a 14-year veteran in Anthony Cavillo at quarterback. He was always a good quarterback, but once Trestman arrived, his numbers shot through the ice. (Get it? Canadians live in igloos… Ice as the roof… OK, I know, stupid joke.)
In 2008, his first year as head coach, Cavillo threw for over 2,000 yards and 26 touchdowns more than he had the previous season. His success continued as he won two MVP awards, and the Alouettes won back-to-back Grey Cups at one point (CFL “Super Bowl”). Trestman was the one calling the plays all this time as the head coach, and he’ll do the same in Chicago this season.
All of this leads to Trestman’s impact on quarterback Jay Cutler. No. 6 has been in the league for seven years, going on his eighth. He’s a veteran, and has been doing things a certain way his whole career. While in Denver, he saw improvement and development all three years there, then came to Chicago and regressed — at least statistically.
Now, do you think it’s all him (because I don’t), or does it have something to do with going from offensive genius Mike Shanahan to defense-only Lovie Smith? Or perhaps it’s from going to a team that had three good receivers and a strong offensive line to a team that had… well, none of that. Again, thank you, Jerry Angelo.
Marc Trestman is the man who has proven he can improve a quarterback, no matter how long they’ve been playing the game because of his coaching and play-calling ability. He’s done it time and time again, and he’ll do it with Cutler too — just watch.
Feel free to comment on what you think of Marc Trestman, Jay Cutler and the Bears’ chances to have success this year below.