By Brad Biggs Chicago Tribune
CHICAGO — Two things have defined Phil Emery’s 50 weeks on the job as Bears general manager — a methodical, thorough approach and bold decisions.
Both were in play when he went big in selecting Marc Trestman as the 14th coach in franchise history in the early morning hours Wednesday.
Trestman will be introduced at Halas Hall at 11 a.m. CST on Thursday as the first head coach to jump from the CFL to the NFL since Frank Kush left the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1982 for the Baltimore Colts. The Bears’ hope is that Trestman’s career arc follows closer to CFL coaches turned NFL Hall of Famers Marv Levy and Bud Grant.
Trestman’s background as a quarterback guru and the success he had with the Montreal Alouettes, reaching the playoffs for five consecutive seasons and winning two Grey Cups, played large factors in his selection over two other finalists — Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians and Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.
Arians made a strong impression on the Bears during a second interview Tuesday and had what a source described as a very positive 90-minute meeting with Jay Cutler. In all, 13 candidates were interviewed for the job after Lovie Smith was fired Dec. 31.
Arians was the only candidate Cutler met with in the interview process, according to the source, but the quarterback was predictably positive about Trestman’s hiring. This will be the fourth offense in five seasons for Cutler and each time he has been fully behind the change in public comments.
“It’s a great hire,” Cutler told the team’s website. “I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve talked to guys around the league and did my own research on him. He’s an offensive mind, a great person. … He has been successful wherever he has been. …”
If Cutler has issues with the offense this time, it will be with Trestman directly. Trestman will call the plays, news that came out after it was learned Aaron Kromer has been hired from the Saints as the offensive coordinator/line coach. That was a role the departing Mike Tice essentially filled last season, but Kromer, who was the interim head coach of the Saints for six games this season, will not be calling plays.
“Aaron is going to be a head coach in this league,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “He has good presence about him. He was kind of the run game coordinator here. This gave him an opportunity to have that title and it will pay him a lot more money. It’s a good promotion for him. I’m excited for him but hate to lose him.”
Also hired was Joe DeCamillis, who comes from the Cowboys to be the special teams coordinator/assistant head coach. He’s a longtime successful assistant who inherits a well-stocked unit. DeCamillis, with whom Emery worked for the Falcons, received an interview for the top job. Emery then connected him and Trestman and a quick hire was made after the Cowboys granted DeCamillis an opportunity to get out of his contract.
“A lot of times you go to a job and the cupboard is bare,” DeCamillis said. “The cupboard is not bare at our place for sure. They have players there, real live NFL special teams players all the way throughout. I am excited. We just need to keep that thing going and hopefully improve it.”
What is undetermined at this point is what will happen on the defensive side of the ball. Sources say Trestman is open to retaining defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli but no decision has been made.
Trestman and Marinelli will have to meet to determine if there is a comfort level. If Marinelli remains, one source said Joe Barry, his son-in-law who worked with him for the Lions, could come from the Chargers as linebackers coach.
Marinelli would not have been in the picture if Arians had received the job and Emery is not believed to be forcing staff members on Trestman. However, Trestman is expected to interview most remaining members of Smith’s staff to explore possibilities, a process that should play out quickly.
One source said he expects defensive backs coach Jon Hoke to remain, although no decision has been made. Another source said the club could be in search of a defensive line coach.
Multiple sources said they would not be surprised if Trestman brings help with him from Canada.
Pat Meyer, who worked with Trestman at North Carolina State, is a strong candidate. He joined the Alouettes last season as offensive line coach and was promoted to offensive coordinator last month. Another source suggested Toronto Argonauts head coach Scott Milanovich, who was offensive coordinator under Trestman previously, could be another candidate.
However, it’s possible quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates will remain on staff and act as a buffer with Cutler. Trestman worked with Bates’ father, Jim, on former Bears coach Dave Wannstedt’s staff in 2004 with the Dolphins.
It is a fluid process that will move quickly with teams filling head-coaching vacancies working to complete staffs. Then, a roster evaluation process kicks off with the Bears also involving the coaching staff to a degree in scouting.
Trestman will have the first opportunity to explain his vision and plan Thursday in what promises to be an interesting day. It’s a first in a lot of ways because the Bears traditionally have not looked to an offensive mind for their head coach. Maybe this is what they need to build constructively around Cutler.