The tide has turned so quickly on Marc Trestman in just his second year that it's almost sad to think about where it was with him just a little while ago.
After taking over a 10-6 team from Lovie Smith, Trestman was at the helm for an 8-8 season, that, while disappointing, left most fans feeling that arrow was pointing up and that was an infusion of talent on the defense he could get the team to the playoffs.
Taking over a 10-win team isn't something that happens very often in the NFL but even without that distinction, the disintegration of the team's win-loss record over the past two years does not bode well for his future.
I perused the coaching records of every NFL team using pro-football-reference.com to see if I could find a coach who took over a team and did worse two consecutive years before getting better.
The results were not great. Most coaches who took over a team saw some level of improvement in year one or year two. If they didn't they usually didn't see year three or make it through year three. I discounted coaches who took over on an interim basis because Trestman did not and it's hard to know how much improvement a coach may have had or when he took over in his interim year.
The first outlier I found to that trend is all the way back in the 1920s when the New York Giants' all-time winningest coach Steve Owen took over. In 1931 took over the Giants from the coach tandem of player-coach Benny Friedman and coach LeRoy Andrews. In 1930 the team went 13-4, in 1931 Steve Owen took over and went 7-6-1 and then in 1932 he led them to 4-6-2.
However, it clicked in year three when Owen led the team to the championship game, which they lost but an 11-3. Owen went on to lead the team to the championship game the next two years, winning in 1934. Owen went on to five more championship games, winning one and coaching until 1953.
It's hard to draw comparisons to football way back in the 1930s, even before the T-formation was popularized.
For a more modern comparison, I found the 1996 St. Louis Rams. After moving from Los Angeles to St. Louis in 1995, the Rams stumbled through two forgettable seasons with head coach Rich Brooks. After a 6-10 '96 season Brooks was let go and the team brought in Dick Vermeil. Vermeil brought a winning track record from the Eagles a decade-and-a-half earlier but after so long out of the game as a broadcaster it was fair to wonder if the game had passed him by.
His first two years in St. Louis were very bad. Taking over a 6-10 team Vermeil went 5-11 in '97 and 4-12 in 1998. It was hard to believe but the Rams brought back Vermeil for year three in 1999. Of course, that was the fabled year that new starting quarterback Trent Green blew out his knee in the preseason and the team rallied around Kurt Warner en route to a 13-3 record and a Super Bowl victory. He retired in that offseason.
It seems unlikely to me that Trestman could pull off a Vermeil-like turnaround in 2015.
Trestman, unfortunately, seems be following the trend more so of former San Francisco 49ers coach Dennis Erickson. In 2003 Erickson took over for Steve Mariucci who had coached the team to a 10-6 record in 2002.
Under Erickson, the 49ers took a step back and finished 7-9. In 2004 the team bottomed out, finishing 2-14. Erickson was subsequently fired. This is the closest parallel I could find to what is happening with the Chicago Bears.
Unless there is somehow a crazy good turnaround over the next seven weeks, I don't see any reason that the Bears should allow Trestman back for a third season. The history of coaches taking down before going back up isn't good. Good coaches see some level of improvement in their first or second year and if there isn't any then it's time to make a change.
So, with seven weeks left, is it fair to say that Trestman is goner?