Souhan: Former Vikings assistant Trestman seems Bears' best bet

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 16, 2013 - 6:37 AM

 Chicago should hire an offensive-minded head coach like Marc Trestman.

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Marc Trestman, with the Montreal Alouettes in 2008.

Photo: Nathan Denette, Associated Press

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The Chicago Bears, the franchise that gave us the intimidating and sometimes profane presences of Halas, Ditka, Butkus and Urlacher, seem inclined to hire a soft-spoken offensive coach to run their team. They could do worse than choosing one of the candidates with ties to Minnesota.

Former Vikings assistants Darrell Bevell and Marc Trestman are thought to be finalists along with Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians. If Bears General Manager Phil Emery avoided bribing college coaches or chasing big names in favor of identifying Bevell and Trestman as prime candidates, he is to be commended for doing his homework and playing against Chicago stereotypes.

There is no reason for the Bears to hire another defensive coach who projects an aura of toughness. What they really need is an offensive coach who can coax a career season out of quarterback Jay Cutler.

''Mike Martz got Cutler killed for a couple of years,'' said former Vikings quarterback Rich Gannon, mentioning the former Bears offensive coordinator. ''Mike Tice is a good football coach, but he didn't have much experience as a play-caller. The Bears should have been much better. Something's not right there.

''You look at their rosters: Between the Bears and the Packers, the difference is in the consistency of production at the quarterback position. What Cutler needs is somebody who can push him and relate to him and get on the same page with him.''

Bevell was the Vikings' offensive coordinator when Brett Favre had his most efficient season, and this year he helped third-round draft pick Russell Wilson become one of the NFL's best quarterbacks as a rookie.

Trestman is the most intriguing of the candidates because of the circuitous nature of his quest to become an NFL head coach. At 57, he might not get many more chances.

Raised in St. Louis Park, Trestman was a member of the Gophers football team. He transferred to Minnesota State Moorhead to play quarterback as a senior.

He went to training camp with the Vikings in 1978 and '79. In 1981, he started his coaching career at the University of Miami, where he also earned a law degree. Twice he worked as an assistant coach for the Vikings. During his NFL coaching career, he was an offensive coordinator four times with dramatic results.

He worked with Gannon in 1990-91 as the Vikings quarterbacks coach and again as the Raiders' offensive coordinator from 2001-2003. In 2002, Gannon, given up on by the Vikings, Redskins and Chiefs, became the NFL's MVP and played in the Super Bowl.

''You look at who's getting hired, and it's amazing,'' Gannon said. ''Mike McCoy in San Diego. Look at what Buffalo did with Doug Marrone. Look at Marc's experience and credentials, and I say, 'Why not Marc?'

''His first year on the job with four different teams, he was the coordinator who took them to the playoffs. Bernie Kosar played great for him. Steve Young had an amazing season working with him -- led the league in passing. Jake Plummer in Arizona put together good seasons. I had my greatest success with Marc in Oakland. Then you look at what he did in Canada.''

Perhaps frustrated by the lack of NFL head coaching offers, Trestman became head coach of the Alouettes in 2008. In 2009, he was named CFL coach of the year while winning the first of two consecutive Grey Cups.

''My guess is his presentation blew Emery away,'' Gannon said.

"He's very organized, very detail- oriented. When you look at his system of football offensively, he sees the game through the eyes of a quarterback when he calls plays.

''I just think he's an ultra-talented coach. I thought San Diego would be a good fit for him. Chicago would be good, too. He could keep the defensive staff together and just come in and get Cutler going.''

I covered Trestman and Bevell. They're smart, personable people who relate well to quarterbacks. Either could succeed in Chicago, but if there is any justice in the coaching profession, this should be Trestman's time.

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon and weekdays at 2 p.m. on 1500-AM. His Twitter name is SouhanStrib. • jsouhan@startribune.com

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