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Marc Trestman was introduced as the Bears' 14th head coach yesterday and was quite impressive in his introductory news conference. As news continues to come out regarding Trestman's first coaching staff, I can't help but notice the lack of defensive coaches not sticking around. This is the biggest concern with Trestman.
Sure no one faults Rod Marinelli for not wanting to accept the one-year contract extension he was offered. It would be tough to stick around and work for a guy you've never worked with and work for an organization that fired your close friend.
Trestman was more than impressive yesterday, expounding on the offensive side of the ball by explaining things that will make long time Bears fans drool. He talked of protecting the quarterback, building around him, making the QB play the focus and sole importance for the overall success of the team.
All fine and good but all the coaching staff moves and the overall theme of Trestman's introductory press conference lead to one thought: Trestman is an offensive Lovie Smith.
For starters, Trestman did not lay out a clear defensive strategy, mainly just saying that he believe in winning at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and that on offense the QB must be protected, while on defense the team must "go get the quarterback."
When an Alouette's fan stopped by here last week to warn Bears fans before they got too giddy about Trestman, he said the defensive side of the ball was a problem for the coach.
Several Bears reporters and NFL people have said or alluded that Trestman needs to be paired with a strong defensive coordinator, which would play into why Phil Emery worked so hard to keep Hot Rod in place.
Trestman, with the Alouette's, has eaten defensive coordinators much like Lovie ate both offensive and defensive coordinators. Trestman had four defensive coordinators in five years in Montreal.
From David Haugh:
With former defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli turning down a one-year contract extension to stay, Trestman suddenly confronts his first crisis. Trestman was hired over Bruce Arians partly based on a willingness to keep Marinelli for continuity. Now it sounds like square one, with Emery acknowledging the search could delve into the college ranks. Who will run the Bears' aging defense? Secondary coach Jon Hoke represents the tidiest transitional option but a wide net has been cast.
The good news: Trestman has experience hiring defensive coordinators. That's also the bad news. In five seasons coaching the Montreal Alouettes, he hired four of them, the fourth after a change in November precipitated by Trestman's team giving up 27 points per game.
Trestman could be a good coach, but he could be another Lovie Smith but instead of bringing defensive greatness with offensive ineptitude, it will be the opposite, which won't help the team to where it wants to go.
Judgement should be reserved though, because as Haugh writes, this is Trestman's first "crisis" (which may be a strong word), and how he handles it and who he hires will go a long way in easing the minds of Bears fans who have seen coordinators come and go with out ever seeing progress.
Another plus for Trestman is that he again distanced himself from the personnel side of it, something he built a reputation on in Montreal. He coaches what he's given. That could be exciting for Bears fans sick of seeing safeties every year in the third round and at least one defensive lineman every draft class. Emery even reiterated yesterday that he is a "best available player" general manager.
Trestman said at the podium yesterday:
"I love to coach ball. And what Phil and his staff are going to do, they're going to give their best efforts to give the coaching staff the best players he possibly can. And then what our staff is going to do is embrace that opportunity to not only develop those players, but put them in a position with systems and a science of football that is flexible to their skills. And then together, in an ongoing collective process, we're going to put a team together that the city of Chicago and its fanbase will be very, very proud of."
Even if a hire is announced today, it doesn't matter. He just has to get it right. The defense is aging and cannot afford to take a step back while this team tries to contend for a championship right away. Trestman's long-term success and legacy will likely be decided by what he can get out of Jay Cutler and the offense, but his immediate success will be tied to what happens on the other side of the ball.