The Chicago Bears have committed to finally fixing their offense, after hiring Marc Trestman as their new head coach. NFL.com's Ian Rappaport reports that the former Canadian Football League head coach will succeed Lovie Smith, as the man in charge of the Monsters of the Midway.
Rappaport also revealed that offensive coordinators Bruce Arians and Darrell Bevell were the other main contenders. This emphasis on appointing an offensive-minded coach shows the Bears are serious about producing a prolific attack to complement their tough and savvy defense.
In particular, the hiring of Trestman represents a firm commitment to controversial passer Jay Cutler. Trestman is a quarterback guru with strong experience of the West Coast offense. He helped Rich Gannon take the Oakland Raiders to the Super Bowl in 2002. Trestman's offense was pure West Coast, with Gannon firing numerous timing passes to veterans Jerry Rice and Tim Brown.
Those West Coast leanings were emphasised during Trestman's two-year stint as offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers. In 1995 and 1996, Trestman directed the likes of Steve Young, Brent Jones and Rice, maintaining the 49ers adherence to the offensive principles first designed by Bill Walsh.
Rice set the NFL record for single-season receiving yards, broken this year by Calvin Jonson, while under Trestman's tutelage. That kind of history is great news for the already dynamic partnership of Cutler and wideout Brandon Marshall.
The pair connected on over 100 pass plays for the third time, dating back to their years together with the Denver Broncos. However, despite Marshall's 118 receptions, Cutler still struggled. He barely eclipsed the 3,000-yard mark and his rating was a disappointing 81.3.
Part of the problem was the conservative play calling from coordinator Mike Tice. Despite playmakers like Marshall and Alshon Jeffery and Cutler's strong arm, Tice was intent on calling a cautious game.
Trestman will likely expand things and fix some of Cutler's issues. He can do it by creating a scheme more suited to Cutler. The temperamental triggerman first struggled in Mike Martz's "air Coryell" design and was then denied the chance to establish a rhythm thanks to Tice's restrictive play designs.
Yet Cutler is a true rhythm passer. That rhythm can be more easily established via the timing-based, precision patterns of the West Coast passing game. The West Coast also demands short drops and quicker, more disciplined footwork. Along with more high-percentage completions, this shift in mechanics can reduce the turnovers that have plagued Cutler since he moved to the Windy City.
While Cutler is often regarded as a reckless gunslinger, he played his best football under Mike Shanahan with the Broncos. That was running a version of the West Coast offense. Trestman can use his success working with mobile quarterbacks like Gannon and Young, to get Cutler back to his best. He can reintroduce elements of the moving pocket, rollout pass attack Cutler thrived in at Denver.
He will design slant routes that are intended to free receivers on the run, rather than simply restricting them to safe, minimal gains. In Marshall and Jeffery, he has receivers with the size to suit the demands of the West Coast passing game.
He will likely also reintroduce the tight end as a legitimate weapon to the Bears offense. As a West Coast proponent, Trestman will find multiple uses for a runner-receiver as versatile as Matt Forte. Inheriting a talented defense led by a veteran core, means Trestman can focus his efforts on his area of expertise. Every member of the Bears offense is likely to benefit from his hiring.
Committing to fixing that offense can make Trestman an instant success and return the Bears to the playoffs.1016740