Chicago Bears: Debating the Head Coaching Candidates Part One
Phil Emery wasted no time plunging head first into his search for the Bears new head coach once he removed Lovie Smith from the position.
Emery hasn’t shown an interest in the usual list of suspects…I mean, candidates like Bill Cowher, John Gruden, etc. While he has filled his interview list with some interesting names that have the promise and football intelligence to be head coaches, most are names that Bears fans may not have an in-depth knowledge of.
I, Tom Pollin and my long-time writing colleague Erik Grogan have covered the NFL and the Bears extensively for Football Nation and agreed it was time to familiarize fans with the names and debate the merits of some of the coaches that have been mentioned for the Bears’ position. Here is part one of our conversation.
Erik Grogan: Give me your thoughts on Marc Trestman. A lot of people have high regards for him and respect. Why?
Tom Pollin: Trestman has been head coach for the Montreal Alouettes for five seasons and led them to consecutive Grey Cup Championships in 2009 and 2010 (think Canadian Lombardi Trophy).
He started as an assistant coach at the University of Miami in 1981 and has been an assistant in pro and college football until heading north in 2008 for the CFL.
He was the quarterbacks coach at the University of Miami in 1983 when Bernie Kosar led the team to a national championship and coached Kosar again in 1988 as quarterbacks coach and in 1989 as the Browns’ offensive coordinator.
Kosar passed for 3,533-yards and 18 touchdowns that season. Webster Slaughter set a then franchise record with 1,236 receiving yards (still No. 2 in Browns’ history) and the Browns went to the AFC Championship Game. That game was famous for “The Fumble”; Ernest Byner’s fumble at the Broncos 2-yard line with a minute left that cost the Browns an appearance in Super Bowl XXIV.
In 1995 he joined George Seifert’s 49ers coaching staff as offensive coordinator, replacing Mike Shanahan. With Steve Young, and when Young hurt his shoulder, Elvis Grbac at quarterback, the 49ers were the No. 1 passing offense and led the NFL in points scored that season.
In 2002 he was named offensive coordinator of the Oakland Raiders the year quarterback Rich Gannon led the NFL in passing and was named MVP. That season was the last time the Raiders appeared in a Super Bowl.
Since 2008 he’s been the head coach of the Montreal Allouettes. With only three downs to gain 10-yards, the wider field and 20-yard deep end zones the passing attack is much more prominent in the CFL, an important consideration for the Bears.
Bud Grant for the Vikings and Marv Levy for the Bills were both CFL coaches who achieved great success in the NFL, though that success never included a Super Bowl victory.
Looking at Trestman’s website you find that he is also a motivational speaker and quarterback consultant. He prepares quarterbacks for the NFL Combine and their Pro Days. He trained Brandon Weeden and Brock Osweiler for the 2012 draft and in 2006, prepared a quarterback out of Vanderbilt for his draft. That quarterback, Jay Cutler, was the first round choice of the Denver Broncos.
How does all of this strike you Erik?
Erik Grogan: I am actually a little bit disappointed and the head coaches you compared him to did not set my mind at ease. The records, history, and success that Trestman has achieved are great but it seems that all of the teams he has been a part of have choked in big games.
However, his ability to spot talent is something that I believe the Bears could use and it could help the team overall. I could care less about Trestman's record or stats in the CFL. It isn't a good translator of what he can bring to the table because it's a different game. That being said, Trestman has been able to create some really good offenses that seem to have done their best under his tutelage.
Even with his ability to get talent out of nothing, sounds like Belichick, I am not 100% against him being the Bears next coach but I'm not overly impressed. What do you think Tom?
Tom Pollin: It's true that his football history involves teams that have always fallen short but he does know the passing game and he has an established connection with Jay Cutler. From what I’ve seen he may be the most interesting person being considered for the Bears position.
What puzzles me is why two special teams coordinators are on the list of candidates. The Falcons’ Keith Armstrong is on the list and Emery has already talked to the Dallas Cowboys' Joe DeCamillis. Has he been infected by working under Jerry Jones (and Jason Garrett)? What does either have to bring to the table besides a healthy appetite?
Erik Grogan: I believe Emery might be impressed with special team coaches because of their ability to get something out of nothing. A lot of special team coaches are fiery and meticulous. That's something Emery is looking for.
In all honesty, I think Emery is doing a favor for a friend to help get someone out there as a head coach candidate because besides Toub, I am not impressed with another special team coach in the league. How do you feel about it?
Tom Pollin: There are examples of special teams coordinators who've made very good head coaches. Two that quickly come to mind would be John Harbaugh with the Ravens and a couple of decades back, Mike Ditka with the Bears.
The drawback to a special teams coach, they need strong offensive and defensive coordinators in place to be successful. An OC or DC hired as a head coach runs their system and oversees the other unit.