There ain't no use re-hashing my thoughts about the team's performance last Sunday Night, but given that I have also got the unique perspective of being able to compare Marc Trestman's 2013 Chicago Bears to Marc Trestman's Montreal Alouettes, I thought I'd give that a try.
From the get go, I was skeptical about what kind of a match Trestman would be with the Bears. Not that I hate the man, but I wasn't sure he'd be the right fit in the Windy City, given the notorious rabidness and impatience of fans there (sounds familiar, all of a sudden). I famously committed the following contribution to Windy City Gridiron, as the Bears were kicking the tires on the old coach last January:
Since then, from this casual fan's account, it looked like the pre-season went like a charm for coach Trestman. My biggest doubt, his relationship with Jay Cutler, warranted little controversy. It did look like the Dour One would give the Trestman system a chance.
It's not like I had doubts that Trestman would find a way to adapt his system to his players. He successfully did that in Montreal when he got there, and got Anthony Calvillo, a mad bomber used to calling his own plays, to cut down on sacks behind an average line by going to 3-5 step drops and getting rid of the ball fast. AC turned that into two more Grey Cups and a HoF career.
In Chicago, Coach T's inherited an arguably worse OL, and from what I saw at the game, Jay Cutler mostly stuck to the early Montreal 2007 game plan. The run game was used to vary play calling, set up play action and screens; he tested the physical matchup of Marshall-Taylor, but did not insist. Whatever pressure the Steelers brought was mostly handled with quick plays or by stepping up into the pocket.
The most amusing part was to be able to call a few plays from the Montreal Alouettes playbook, just by looking at formations I could see very well from my upper end zone seat. It is trite to say that the CFL and NFL games are quite different, but I could tell that coach Trestman used the Canadian game as a mad experiment opportunity, and he was able to apply what could be applied to his own brand of West Coast offense once he got to Chicago.
All proportions kept, Marc Trestman appears to benefit from the same type of personel he inherited in 2007: shaky OL play, a good quarterback still with room to grow, a complete RB who can run, catch and block in Matt Forte, a big physical go-to WR in Brandon Marshall. All that remains to be seen is whether he'll be able to win a couple of championships with it.
Are the Bears ready to take the next step this year? I doubt that: their OL is still a shambles, and offensive depth is not what it should be. Provided he doesn't thinker with the defense, I could see the Bears giving the young Packers a run for their money for several more years, though.
Whether the FO will have the patience to stick with a coach who's not necessarily one of the good ol' boys network, if, for instance, the relationship with Cutler sours or the offense stalls in the cold months, is another matter entirely.
As for Bears fans, as long as he's winning, they'll overlook the fact that he's no gregarious Ditka, but rather a pro who expects his players to act as adult pros. Once that stops, it remains to be seen whether his intellectual appearance and apparent aloofness will have endeared him to Chicago.
I resisted the temptation to bring a sign that would have read "Coach T, we need you back in Montreal" - The Alouettes are mediocre for the first time in 11 seasons, but Montreal is in Marc Trestman's rear view mirror, and he's not looking back. Anyway, who can read signs way up in the bleachers, where even game light doesn't reach?