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Trestman a mastermind, guru ... or collosal mistake?

The SportsXchange

CHICAGO -- 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 Chicago Bears history.

Who exactly is Trestman, the man expected to take the 10-6 Bears to the next level, even though he's been out of the NFL since 2004?

The smartest guy in the room?

Too laid-back and quiet to lead a team?

An offensive mastermind?

A quarterback guru?

Depending on who's doing the talking, any of those comments could describe Trestman. He was officially announced as the Bears' new head coach in the early morning hours Wednesday, one day after his 57th birthday.

"I was shocked. I never saw him as a head coach," former Raiders wide receiver Tim Brown told ESPN Radio. "He's a very smart guy, he knows football like the back of his hand, but you have to be able to handle players. It's going to be interesting to see how (Bears quarterback) Jay Cutler and him get along."

Brown admits he didn't see eye to eye with his coach when Trestman was the Raiders' offensive coordinator in 2002 and '03. Part of the reason is that Jerry Rice, arguably the greatest receiver in NFL history, played a bigger role in the passing game than Brown, who is a long shot to join Rice in the Hall of Fame on Super Bowl weekend.

"We had some interesting words about it," Brown said. "He was sort of a quiet guy. He'll speak with you, but he has kind of a monotone-like voice. The whole situation is going to be interesting because I never saw him as a head coach. A great offensive coordinator? Absolutely. No doubt about it. But it's such a big step."

Almost everyone else who has worked with Trestman believes it's a step he's ready to take after five years as the head coach of the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League. That was preceded by 17 years as an assistant coach in the NFL, mostly working with quarterbacks and as an offensive coordinator.

According to Alouettes general manager Jim Popp, Trestman's boss for the past five years, the Bears are getting a well-rounded head coach. Among other accomplishments, Trestman has a law degree from the University of Miami and has been a member of the Florida bar since 1983.

"The Bears are getting an extremely intelligent man who is very well organized, will approach a game and dissect it like he's preparing for a battle in a courtroom," Popp said. "He coaches his coaches. He grinds them hard because, if they can't X and O and they can't communicate with the players and they can't articulate to them and cover every aspect of the game before they hit the field, they won't coach for him."

Trestman is similar to fired Bears coach Lovie Smith in that he isn't loud, emotional or demonstrative.

"He's very calm and collected; very calculated," Popp said. "He can raise the tone of his voice to get your attention real quick. The quarterback will be his best friend, and that quarterback will know it and he'll get the most out of him, and (Trestman) will form his team around that guy. You couldn't have a better-prepared guy to name as a head coach."

Rams assistant head coach Dave McGinnis, a long-time Bears assistant coach, worked on the same staff as Trestman with the Arizona Cardinals from 1998-2000.

"He's very smart, he's very bright, he's worked with and under some real productive and some real big names in this league," McGinnis said on the Waddle and Silvy Show on ESPN Radio. "He's very innovative. He sees the game through the quarterback's eyes because that's what he's really been. He's been a quarterback guy his whole career."

The Bears' hope is that Trestman's expertise in developing quarterbacks pushes Cutler to reach his full potential. Critics believe the Bears' quarterback has barely scratched the surface of what he could be, and many doubt that he will ever reach the next level.

Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo is a Trestman believer. He was already an established CFL star when Trestman took over, but in his five years, Calvillo and the Alouettes have gone to the CFL championship three times, winning the Grey Cup twice. The 40-year-old Calvillo, who has thrown for more yards than any professional quarterback in history, has been league MVP three times, twice under Trestman.

"All I know is Marc Trestman is going to give that offense and that team the best chance to win," Calvillo said. "They're going to be very detailed. They're going to be stepping on that field prepared. Every single person is going to know exactly what his assignment is."

Some critics contend that Trestman's version of the West Coast Offense is too complicated, but McGinnis disagrees.

"What he's able to do with an offense is get very innovative but at the same time get it to where the players can understand week by week what they have to do specifically to attack people and areas of weakness that the defenses present," McGinnis said. "The Bears did a nice job in hiring him."
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