The last time Marc Trestman worked in the NFL, prior to taking the Bears' head-coaching job on January 16, was as a consultant on Sean Payton's Saints staff in 2007.
Trestman and Payton will match offensive minds today when the Bears host the Saints at Soldier Field, but the Bears' coach considers their time together a valuable learning experience.
"Number one, it was more about a friendship between Sean and myself," Trestman said. "We weren't good friends at the time, but we had gotten to know each other."
Trestman had been fired as the offensive coordinator at North Carolina State, along with the rest of the staff, after the 2006 season.
"It was an opportunity to have some dignity in my career," Trestman said. "I had just been let go at N.C. State. I wasn't doing anything. I was sitting the year out, (and) I had two years left on a contract. He invited me down and really showed professional respect. Mickey Loomis, the G.M., really made me feel a part of things.
"That was the best part, and having the opportunity to be around the NFL at a very high level because of what they were doing there with (quarterback) Drew (Brees) and the offense. It was a great learning time for me and it was also a good time to watch Sean be a head coach."
In 2006, his rookie season as an NFL head coach, Payton had guided the Saints to the NFC championship game, where they lost to the Bears 39-14, and the next year they slumped to 7-9.
"I got to see how he worked on a daily basis and see how he handled the success and the adversity," Trestman said. "I got a chance to see how to get things done and do things the right way. It was impressive."
Ideal QB composition:
As an offensive consultant on the Saints staff in 2007, Marc Trestman was around for the early years of the Drew Brees era in New Orleans.
In the five years after that, Brees threw 190 TD passes and just 83 interceptions. He never had a passer rating under 90.9 and was over 109 twice. This year he's at 103.8.
"He's a specialist and an expert in everything that they do," Trestman said. "Plus, he's a gym rat. He loves the game. He's there morning until night, plus he's a tough and courageous man besides, with an uncanny ability to throw the football with tremendous accuracy. That's a pretty good formula for success."
Us against him:
Bears 5-foot-8 cornerback Tim Jennings doesn't match up very well on paper against the Saints' 6-foot-7 tight end Jimmy Graham, but almost no defender does. Jennings said he's looking forward to the challenge.
"I've watched him enough, now I get to finally see him in person and play him in person," said last year's NFL leader in interceptions, with 9. "But it's going to take a whole team effort; the corners, the safeties, D-line, linebackers. Everybody's going to have to get there and make the throw a little tougher and try to contain a big-play receiver like him. It'll be exciting to see him in person."
Not for now:
Coach Marc Trestman wasn't sure if the Bears would be interested in quarterback Josh Freeman, who was cut by the Bucs on Thursday.
"I don't know ... number one, that's not even my say to evaluate him at this point," Trestman said. "I haven't seen him play in the last five years enough to even comment on that."
Freeman had been the Bucs' starter since early in his rookie season after he was drafted 17th overall in 2009. But he regressed this year and was benched after three games with a 59.3 passer rating. His career passer rating was 81.9 in his first four seasons.