Everybody knows the clear front runner for Coach of the Year this 2013 NFL season is Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs. However, does another first year coach in Marc Trestman deserve to stand on the same tier?
Chicago Bears have navigated more obstacles than Kansas City Chiefs
First and foremost, the job Andy Reid has done getting his team to 9-0 from 2-14 the year before is phenomenal. Barring a meltdown he is a shoe-in for the award, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t have contenders. This is not a case against Reid, but more of a case for Trestman. It must be remembered that Reid has done this song and dance before. He spent several successful years in Philadelphia. He knows how to get a team turned around. Trestman on the other hand hadn’t seen NFL action since 2004, spending his time in college and then the Canadian League. From there he took over a Chicago Bears team that was parting ways with a head coach in Lovie Smith who was very popular with his players and coming off a 10-6 season. Reid didn’t have to worry about the players accepting him because the previous staff had sunk the Kansas City Chiefs franchise to new lows. At the same time, Trestman was tasked with getting players to accept him, particularly the defense, he had to solve a multitude of issues on offense such as an offensive line that gave up 44 sacks in 2012 and an enigmatic quarterback in Jay Cutler who was developing a reputation as a coach killer. Then, on top of all that, a host of injuries have ravaged the team including Cutler, Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs, Pro Bowl defensive tackle Henry Melton and Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Tillman. Most first year coaches would’ve seen their team go into a tailspin. Instead Trestman has the Bears at 5-3 and poised to take over first place.
Jay Cutler and Matt Forte feeling the Trestman effect
So what about key area effect? Trestman and Reid are both offensive coaches who were tasked with rebuilding a pair of anemic offenses in Chicago and Kansas City. In 2012 the Chiefs were ranked 24th overall in total offense, the Bears were 28th. This season Kansas City is 25th while Chicago is 10th. That obviously doesn’t tell the entire story. Reid has gotten far more out of his players than the coaching staff last season but it is still an eye opener. A big culprit for explaining both situations is up front. A year ago the Chiefs were 22nd in pass protection and are 23rd this year despite adding first overall pick Eric Fisher to the offensive line. Meanwhile the Bears, who ranked 25th in protection, replaced four starters including with two rookies and currently rank 3rd. This ability by Trestman to bring about improvement has helped explain the considerable jumps in production for core players like Jay Cutler and Matt Forte. Then something else to consider is strength of schedule. Research shows the Chiefs have played a much easier string of opponents this season including four games in which the opponent was fielding a backup quarterback. Chicago on the other hand has played four teams with winning records, which doesn’t include tilts against Eli Manning and Robert Griffin III.
Part of becoming the NFL Coach of the Year is not just finding success when it’s unexpected, it’s finding success in the face of adversity. Andy Reid will get prime consideration with the Kansas City Chiefs. Still, it can and should be argued that Marc Trestman has accomplished just as much.