The Trestman Effect… ( Phil Emery knew exactly what he was getting in the famed “Quarterback Whisperer”)

Published by Jerz 8/9/2014

I can remember the day the Bears announced the hiring of Marc Trestman like it was yesterday. Like many fans of the team, I also said “Who?”. I knew that General Manager Phil Emery would exhaust any and all possibilities in choosing his replacement for the fired Lovie Smith but I was surprised he selected a guy who had no prior NFL head coaching experience. It was no secret that Emery wanted an offensive mind that would devise the type of offensive scheme that could match the likes of division rivals Green Bay and Detroit and Emery would everything within his means to help put together such an offense for his new head coach.  Of the many candidates to interview for the job, Trestman obviously proved something to Emery in their sit downs that showed he was the guy for the job moving forward. The Bears were coming off a (10-6) campaign and just missed the playoffs (despite starting the season 7-1) with an offense that was predictable and a defense that was “long in the tooth”. Their starting Quarterback was going into a contract year and many wondered if he was the type of guy you can hitch your Championship wagon to long term? Enter the “Quarterback Whisperer”…

Trestman had previous experience with Cutler as he was preparing to enter the NFL Draft in 2006. His impact on Cutler was visible immediately as his decision making improved, he got rid of the ball quicker and checked down instead of forcing the ball into tight spaces. Trestman expects more of the same from his signal caller in 2014...
Trestman had previous experience with Cutler as he was preparing to enter the NFL Draft in 2006. His impact on Cutler was visible immediately as his decision making improved, he got rid of the ball quicker and checked down instead of forcing the ball into tight spaces. Trestman expects more of the same from his signal caller in 2014…

The 2013 Bears offense experienced an immediate turnaround and was one of the best in football due in part to some key free agent acquisitions (Jermon Bushrod, Matt Slauson and Martellus Bennett), solid draft picks (Kyle Long and Jordan Mills) and the emergence of a 2nd year Wide Receiver coming back from an injury riddled rookie campaign (Alshon Jeffery). The Bears were expected to be better offensively but no one imagined they’d hit the ground running THIS fast. Trestman introduced an up tempo practice style that carried over to game day and with a revamped offensive line (4 new starters in 2013) now protecting the passer and opening running lanes for Pro Bowl Running Back Matt Forte the offense showed immediate promise of what it could truly become.

The biggest question was would Cutler buy in to yet another change in offensive philosophy (which was becoming the norm for him in Chicago) and step up his level of play? It was no secret that at times Cutler can be a mechanical mess doing all kinds of things you shouldn’t do (throwing off his back foot under pressure, forcing the ball into tight windows, holding the ball too long and taking unnecessary hits and sacks that often led to fumbles) and drive his offensive coaches batty. THIS was why Trestman was hired. Trestman didn’t have NFL head coaching experience but what he did have was a ton of experience coaching Quarterbacks on the college (in 1983 with The University of Miami) and professional level (in 1987 with Tampa Bay) and designing offenses as an Offensive Coordinator (in 1989 with Cleveland). He’s helped the likes of Bernie Kosar, Scott Mitchell, Steve Young, Jake Plummer and Rich Gannon (to name a few) enjoy some of their most successful seasons as signal callers. He doesn’t “re-invent the wheel” he just focuses on sound mechanics, quick decision making and taking care of the football. It’s easy to say that’s what you need to do but Trestman is worth his wait in gold for how he TEACHES these things.

Trestman joined Oakland in 2001 as Quarterbacks Coach and was later promoted to Offensive Coordinator in 2002. that season the raiders led the NFL in total offense and helped Rich Gannon win NFL MVP...
After being promoted from Quarterbacks Coach to Offensive Coordinator in 2002, Trestman’s Raiders offense led the NFL in total offense and helped Rich Gannon win NFL MVP…

Fans jokingly call Trestman “The Quarterback Whisperer” but he’s lived up to the moniker after one season in the Windy City. Quarterback Jay Cutler looked like a completely different guy, early in 2013, as he showed trust in the plays called, made better decisions in the pocket, got rid of the ball quicker and checked down when his other options were well defended. He also showed a clutch gene in leading the Bears to come from behind wins against Cincinnati and Minnesota. Cutler was actually enjoying his best start to a season statistically before groin and ankle injuries robbed him of parts or all of 7 games. The high octane Bears offense didn’t skip a beat when backup Josh McCown was pressed into action. McCown played so well (in 2 relief appearances and 5 starts) that some Bears fans actually would’ve been okay with him signing a multi-year extension after the season and Cutler leaving town. This is the SAME Josh McCown that most fans of the team weren’t really sold on as the #2 Quarterback coming into the 2013 season. I was pounding the table for them to bring someone else in to compete for the #2 spot just because McCown’s track record didn’t light my fire. The moment I knew things were real was when McCown came in “cold turkey” in relief of the injured Cutler against Washington and almost led the Bears to victory. Considering he received zero (physical) reps that week and was as in tune with the receivers and the flow of the offense as he was still blows me away. This is a tribute to Trestman and how he simplifies the game for his signal callers. McCown flipped 2 sparkling relief appearances and a 3-2 record in 5 starts (including the BEST 4 game stretch in Bears history statistically) into a chance to start for Tampa Bay (after signing a 2 year $10 million dollar deal). McCown was one of the better stories in the NFL after posting 13 TDs to just 1 interception and should consider getting Trestman something really nice for Christmas…

Cutler (left) and McCown (middle) both have benefitted from the tutelage of Trestman and helped the Bears establish themselves as a Top Offensive Unit in 2013.
Cutler (left) and McCown (middle) both benefitted from the tutelage of Trestman and helped establish the Bears as a Top Offensive Unit in 2013.

The jury is still out on whether Cutler will ascend to the Top tier of NFL Quarterbacks but there is no question about the talent around him. His biggest challenge in 2014 is playing smart and protecting himself for every game the Bears play (which they’re hoping includes the Playoffs). With McCown moving on to Tampa, many wonder what he’ll look like in a new system. Was he a product of Trestman’s Quarterback friendly scheme or is he a playmaker by nature that can make it in any system because of his natural feel for the game and veteran experience? 2014 will answer these questions. Trestman (his Quarterback Coach Matt Cavanaugh and Offensive Coordinator Aaron Kromer) now have the task of replacing McCown and coaching up veterans Jordan Palmer, Jimmy Clausen or rookie David Fales to be ready in a pinch if Cutler goes down. All 3 looked solid in their 1st preseason action against the Eagles (though Clausen was the only one that didn’t throw an interception) and figure to battle down to the wire for the #2 job. Fales may be on the outside looking in for the #2 job but is definitely a good prospect to groom and develop. If the Bears decide to keep 2 backup QBs, he’s safe with the loser between Palmer and Clausen more than likely kept on speed dial. The most impressive performance of the backup QBs in Friday’s win over the Eagles was Clausen who was a late add to OTAs (signing in early June). Clausen showed a command of the offense and a poise under pressure that makes you appreciate the work the staff (as well as Cutler) have put in with him getting him up to speed. This again is a tribute to Trestman and his ability to have his guys buy in to what he’s teaching to the point that his coaches (and starting QB) are an extension of him. Whoever wins the backup job will be more than prepared to step in for Cutler, if need be, and may have fans saying “Josh who?”. The Bears will be in great shape to repeat their offensive success and that’s not by accident. It’s all due to the teachings and the foundation being laid by “The Quarterback Whisperer”…

Trestman has a history of working closely with his Quarterbacks and making sure they are well prepared for any and all situations that may arise on game day. He's hoping to turn the forgotten about Clausen into his next "reclamation project"...
Trestman has a history of working closely with his Quarterbacks and making sure they are well prepared for any and all situations that may arise on game day. He’s hoping to turn the forgotten about Clausen into his next “reclamation project”…

Follow me on Twitter @NiceTheGr34t…

 

 

 

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