Bears hire CFL's Trestman as new head coach

  • After winning two CFL titles with the Montreal Alouettes, Marc Trestman was hired by the Chicago Bears on Wednesday to be their head coach.

    After winning two CFL titles with the Montreal Alouettes, Marc Trestman was hired by the Chicago Bears on Wednesday to be their head coach. AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Geoff Robins

  • The Chicago Bears announced early Wednesday that they have hired Mark Trestman, right, as their new head coach.

    The Chicago Bears announced early Wednesday that they have hired Mark Trestman, right, as their new head coach. The Canadian Press/Ryan Remiorz/2010

Updated 1/16/2013 4:59 PM

Marc Trestman, eh?

After an international search that took 15 days and included 13 candidates, the head coach of the Canadian Football League's Montreal Alouettes was named the 14th head coach in Bears history.


Bears general manager Phil Emery crisscrossed the continent in his search to replace Lovie Smith, who was fired Dec. 31 after nine years. Trestman was one of three finalists, including Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, who all had second interviews at Halas Hall earlier in the week. It is believed Emery's final choice was between Trestman and Arians.

The official announcement from the Bears came at 4:07 a.m. Wednesday. Trestman, who turned 57 on Tuesday, will be introduced at a Halas Hall news conference at 11 a.m. Thursday.

Trestman's hire is considered a gamble by Emery because he has not coached in the NFL since 2004, when he was the Miami Dolphins' assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach. But he evidently impressed Emery with an initial eight-hour interview and he's considered by many to be an offensive mastermind, something Emery prioritized in his search. He was also one of only three candidates for the Bears job with head-coaching experience, compiling a 63-34 record with the Alouettes and winning two Grey Cup titles in the CFL.

It turns out that Fox analyst and former NFL coach Jimmy Johnson was right several days ago when he tweeted that it appeared Trestman would get the Bears' job, even before the second round of interviews began. Trestman was Johnson's quarterbacks coach at the University of Miami from 1983-84 when Johnson was the Hurricanes' head coach and they won the national championship with quarterback Bernie Kosar.

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Before he spent the previous five years guiding the Alouettes to two Grey Cup titles (2009 and 2010), Trestman also spent 17 years in the NFL as an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, gaining a reputation as an astute game planner and play caller and a master at tutoring and developing quarterbacks. Those skills will come in handy with a Bears offense that ranked 28th out of 32 NFL teams last season.

Among the NFL quarterbacks that Trestman helped develop were the Kosar with the Cleveland Browns, Jake Plummer of the Arizona Cardinals and Hall of Famer and San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young, who believes his former coach was a great choice by the Bears.

"He's a dynamic leader but soft-spoken," Young said on the Waddle and Silvy Show on WMVP AM-1000 Tuesday morning. "Great hire. He'll keep the defense up and watch the flowering of a great offense. I think that's what Marc Trestman brings."

Trestman's first project will be quarterback Jay Cutler, who possesses elite physical skills but has never posted a season passer rating above 88.5 in his seven NFL seasons. Young finished his NFL career with a 96.8 passer rating, the second best in NFL history behind Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers.


"First you have to have a willing participant," Young said of Cutler. "It takes a lot of care, a lot of time, a lot of study and a lot of intricate work. But I've got to believe that if someone (like Trestman) speaks to him in a resonant way, that he would respond to that. He's ready for it."

Trestman has been an NFL offensive coordinator with the Browns, 49ers, Cardinals and Oakland Raiders, and in 13 of his 17 NFL seasons he worked as a quarterbacks coach, often overlapping with his coordinating duties.

He was hired as the Raiders' quarterbacks coach in 2001 and promoted to offensive coordinator in 2002, the year quarterback Rich Gannon was the NFL's MVP. Gannon has credited Trestman with taking his game to a higher level.

The veteran QB had a career passer rating of 84.7, but in his MVP season had a personal-best 97.3 rating with career bests and NFL highs of 4,689 passing yards, 418 completions and 618 attempts. His 67.6 completion percentage was also a personal best, and he threw 26 TD passes with just 10 interceptions, leading the Raiders to Super Bowl XXXVII as a 37-year-old, 15-year veteran.

Early Wednesday morning Gannon tweeted: "I'm excited for my former coach. He is as qualified as any to coach that team and work with Cutler."

Former Bears and NIU running back Garrett Wolfe played for Trestman in Canada.

"Great guy," Wolfe said. "Player friendly. Honest and forthright, very detail oriented."

Trestman coached Kosar at the University of Miami, and in 1988 he was reunited with Kosar in Cleveland. They helped to lead the Browns to two playoff appearances, including the AFC Championship Game in 1989.

In his first year as the Cardinals' offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach (1998), Arizona's Plummer threw for 3,737 yards and the Cards made playoffs for their first time since 1982 and won their first postseason game in 51 years.

"He's a phenomenal offensive mind and a great game-day play caller," Young said of Trestman. "He's thoughtful. He's not going to scream at people, but he'll get after people."

Trestman was the CFL's coach of the year in 2009. He also helped guide quarterback Anthony Calvillo to back-to-back CFL MVP's in 2008 and 2009. Trestman and his wife Cindy have two daughters, Sarahanne and Chloe.


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