Bears’ Marc Trestman builds staff differently than Lovie Smith
For me, it's been fascinating to see the staff moves being made by Trestman. When you dig deeper into the background of these coaches, it looks like he's building a firm foundation of coaching knowledge here. For whatever reason, the Bears have not been successful bringing in solid sub-coaches over the years (with a few notable exceptions). This article may explain some of the reason we couldn't develop our own talent very well, especially on offense.
Bears general manager Phil Emery didn’t hire Marc Trestman just because he can ‘‘fix’’ Jay Cutler and the Bears’ offense.
If there’s a leap of faith he took, it’s that Trestman is as astute at judging coaches as he is at working with quarterbacks. When he was hired by the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL in 2008, Trestman not only was new to the Canadian Football League, but new to hiring anybody. He ended up with a staff composed of coaches he had never worked with.
The Alouettes improved from 8-10 in 2007 to 11-7 in 2008 and played in the Grey Cup, the CFL’s Super Bowl. The next two seasons, the Alouettes won it all.
‘‘There was no staff in that building when Marc came there,’’ Emery said. ‘‘He interviewed and hired all of those [coaches] on his own. And to have great success and win championships, that tells me a lot about [Trestman]. That’s a candidate I want to be in the room with, working towards championships.’’
One advantage Trestman has with the Bears is more latitude to hire coaches with NFL experience; thus, more coaches he’s familiar with. In five seasons with the Alouettes, Trestman hired one coach he previously had worked with — Pat Meyer, whom Trestman was with at North Carolina State in 2005-06. He was the Alouettes’ offensive line coach in 2012.
Trestman’s staff with the Bears includes three coaches he has worked with — offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer, tight ends coach Andy Bischoff and assistant defensive line coach Michael Sinclair. But more importantly, seven of the nine coaches Trestman hired have a combined 103 years of NFL experience, including 80 at the position they were hired to coach.
That doesn’t necessarily mean he picked the right guys. But it’s in stark contrast to Lovie Smith’s first staff in 2004. His 16 assistants had a combined 29 years of NFL experience and only nine years of experience at the position they were hired to coach.
Smith picked a winner in special-teams coordinator Dave Toub, who had been the assistant special-teams coordinator with the Philadelphia Eagles. But offensive coordinator Terry Shea, who had been the quarterbacks coach for the Kansas City Chiefs for three seasons, was fired after one season.
Defensive coordinator Ron Rivera, the most experienced NFL coach on Smith’s first staff, was fired after the 2006 season and replaced by Bob Babich, who was replaced two seasons later by Smith himself and eventually Rod Marinelli.
Despite two playoff appearances and a Super Bowl berth in Smith’s first three seasons, his ‘‘coaching tree’’ never flourished. Perry Fewell, who was hired as defensive backs coach in 2005, became the defensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills in 2006 and the New York Giants in 2010. Chris Tabor, an assistant special-teams coordinator under Toub from 2008 to ’10, became the Cleveland Browns’ special-teams coordinator in 2011. Babich was just hired as the Jacksonville Jaguars’ defensive coordinator this week.
But there have been just as many former Smith assistants who have reached new heights after being let go by Smith. Rivera completed his second season as the Carolina Panthers’ coach. Pep Hamilton, the quarterbacks coach fired after Jay Cutler’s first season in 2009, was just hired as the Indianapolis Colts’ offensive coordinator. Harold Goodwin, an assistant offensive line coach on Smith’s first staff who was let go after the 2006 season, recently was hired as the Arizona Cardinals’ offensive coordinator.
Will Marc Trestman have better luck? Unlike Smith, Trestman inherited a 10-win. The right coaches can make a difference. If experience counts, Trestman is off to a good start.