A lot of fans are still having trouble getting past the Lovie Smith era. For all the good and bad things the former head coach of the Chicago Bears did, he at least brought stability to perhaps the most important coaching position in Chicago sports. He also represented a long line of defensive-minded men who tailored to the defensive mindedness of the city. Now all that has passed. GM Phil Emery kick started his second year in charge by dragging the Windy City out of its comfort zone by hiring the offensive specialist Marc Trestman. Nobody is certain yet on how they should feel about the former NFL coordinator and CFL head coach. He seems analytical and boring in appearance, but is there good reason for Bears fans to have hope for their historically listless offense in 2013?
The best way to answer that question is by using his other previous coaching stops around the league. In order to get an accurate assessment it's important to exclude his stints as purely a quarterback coach and focus solely on the first year he was appointed offensive coordinator. The reason for this is to get the best look at his immediate impact on an offense, good or bad. So with that in mind where to start? Trestman broke into the league with the Minnesota Vikings and Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a running backs and quarterbacks coach from 1985 to 1987. His first shot at offensive coordinator came in 1989 with the Cleveland Browns. That year the team averaged 20 points per game and reached the AFC championship. This was a modest improvement from the year before at 19 ppg.
A falling out with then head coach Bud Carson sent Trestman back to the Vikings before he landed his first big break with the San Francisco 49ers in 1995. That year they were the defending champions and averaged 28 points per game. That might seem great but it was actually a three point drop from the 31 ppg they posted in 1994. Yet that offense in '95 under Trestman was good enough to rank #1 in total offense. His next stint came with the Oakland Raiders where he took the offense implanted by Jon Gruden that scored 25 points per game in 2001 up to 28 points per game in 2002, their last season in the playoffs.
Perhaps the most dramatic shift however came when he left the U.S. for Canada to pursue his dream of head coaching. The Montreal Alouettes hired him to turn around a struggling offense. This Trestman did with remarkable results. In 2007, Montreal averaged 22 points per game and surrendered 66 sacks on star quarterback Anthony Cavillo. Just one year later, it went up to 33 points per game and a mere 22 sacks given up. Montreal reached the Grey Cup that year, and went on to win two-in-a-row over the next two seasons.
What this means for the Bears is big things. They have a solid quarterback in place with Jay Cutler who, regardless of his colorful stat sheet, can play really well when guided properly. The offensive line is better, or at least more talented than last season and the playbook far more complex. Using his previous stops as a guideline Chicago can expect somewhere around a three-point bump in points per game this season. For an idea, that would've been 26 points per game in 2012 (a score which would have won four extra games that season).
It's impossible to tell if things will actually go this way for the Bears this year. One thing is for sure though, history doesn't lie when it happens the same way over and over again. That is why the Trestman effect could bring big positives right away.