Dec 15, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman on the sidelines during the third quarter against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Bears: Marc Trestman vs. Lovie Smith


Brandon Marshall wasn’t a fan of Marc Trestman when he first took over the Chicago Bears for Lovie Smith.  It didn’t take long for that to change.  So with his second season on the way how do the comparisons measure up between the former CFL coach and his predecessor?

Mel Tucker

Everybody should stop for a second and think about this.  If Mel Tucker were offensive coordinator for Chicago in 2013 and fielded the 32nd ranked offense in the league, would he still have a job if Lovie Smith were in charge?  The answer isn’t hard to predict.  Smith had four different offensive coordinators during his stint with the Bears.  In fact his very first one Terry Shea did field the worst offense in football in 2004 and Smith ended up replacing him with Ron Turner.  Time has shown that Marc Trestman is not as impulsive.  Instead of starting from scratch on defense, he has favored stability, electing to keep Tucker, who is popular with the players and instead make adjustments to his defensive staff by adding more experience with veteran coaches like Paul Pasqualoni and Reggie Herring.

Was it the right decision?  Well in 2005 the Bears fielded the 29th overall offense under Turner, a modest improvement from the year before.  So in order to be considered the right call Tucker will have to oversee a defensive turnaround that gets at least to 28th overall.  It sounds like an easy job considering Tucker is no longer handcuffed by having to run Smith’s old scheme and also being able to add players he wants.  Still, time will tell.

Jay Cutler

As a defensive head coach it’s natural that Lovie Smith wouldn’t know how to relate to a quarterback.  That’s not his fault but it’s impossible to ignore that factor.  During his four seasons under Smith, Jay Cutler didn’t hate his head coach but also wasn’t shy about admitting the need for a change in 2013.  That candidness could be considered a byproduct of Smith not holding the offense to a higher standard than he had the defense for so many years. Meanwhile Cutler was stuck with several different coordinators, bad offensive lines and limited weaponry.  Marc Trestman changed all that because he understood from the very beginning that the quarterback is the key.  Success for Chicago would come through the success of that position, namely Cutler.  That meant better pass protection and more targets to throw to.  Suddenly Jay has a new contract, scheme stability and a chance to grow as a quarterback for the first time in years.

The Injury Bug

Lovie Smith has experienced the Injury Bug before on a similar scale to what the Bears did in 2013.  His first season as head coach saw the team gutted by losses to such stalwarts like Brian Urlacher, Mike Brown and a young Rex Grossman.  The team finished the season 5-11.  Health is obviously paramount for any team every year but some have proven able to overcome such issues.  Marc Trestman could be one of them.  He too watched his defense fall apart with season-ending blows to key players like Henry Melton, Charles Tillman, and D.J. Williams.  Throw in the loss of Jay Cutler for five games and people would’ve rightfully thought the Bears were cooked.  Instead Trestman was able to rally what was left of the roster, made some adjustments and the team finished one win away from the playoffs at 8-8.

Alshon Jeffery and Kyle Long

Perhaps the most damning evidence in the argument between Trestman and Smith regarding the Chicago Bears is in player development.  When Smith took over most of the talent that would bring about his greatest success was already on the roster.  Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman became outstanding inherited projects for him, which he developed well.  However team success is defined by coaches who can draft players and then mold them into stars.  Only three players Smith accomplished that feat with were defensive tackles Tommie Harris, Henry Melton and running back Matt Forte.

Trestman is already catching up.  His very first draft pick, guard Kyle Long reached the Pro Bowl as a rookie and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery emerged as one of the best pass targets in football.  Even rookie 5th round pick Jordan Mills started 16 games.  As of now Smith has more Pro Bowlers on his record, but considering how many players were drafted under his watch and didn’t pan out, it is an indictment on his ability to pinpoint and develop young talent.  Marc Trestman is off to a much better start.

Conclusion

Lovie Smith got the Chicago Bears to a Super Bowl.  That is the benchmark Trestman will be judged against regardless if the team makes the playoffs more often during his tenure.  Still, as far as career starts go it seems the new man in charge has a leg up on the one he replaced.

Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":

Tags: Alshon Jeffery Chicago Bears Jay Cutler Kyle Long Lovie Smith Marc Trestman Mel Tucker

  • James

    This is the dumbest fucking article ever written!!

    • Erik Lambert

      Kindly lend me your expertise, James because your simple opinion really isn’t worth much at this point.

      • Dakota

        Don’t worry Erik. He’s one of those fans who wishes Lovie was still here and thinks Urlacher should still be playing and would do so at a Pro Bowl level still.

        • Erik Lambert

          Thanks Dakota but it’s no skin off my back. I encounter people like that all the time: make statement, insult, leave without reinforcing their point.

    • James

      Well here is my expertise… You’re an idiot! How can you even write this article right now? Saying trestman has a leg up.. Umm hello he took over a 10-6 team and only won 8 games! He had the lucky break of Aaron rodgers getting hurt for most of the year and he couldn’t take advantage of that. Talk to me in 9 seasons and see who has the better record. Oh and dakota you’re right i do still want lovie to be the coach. Just watch what he does in Tampa this year!

      • Erik Lambert

        Feel free to do everybody a favor then and follow him to Tampa, James. Yes, Trestman took over a 10-6 team. A 10-6 team that Lovie failed to get to the playoffs (again). I stated in the article (which I doubt you even read) that Trestman went 8-8 with a team that suffered the same series of injuries Lovie went through his first year in 2004. Lovie went 5-11. If you want to give credit to a coach whose claim to fame is losing a Super Bowl, that’s fine. I’m sticking by the statement that so far as coaching arc goes, Trestman has the lead.

        • James

          Its funny whenever lovie smith would mention injuries and things people would get all ove him and say he’s making excuses… Its cool for you to make excuses for trestman though. Trestman oversaw the WORSE bears defense in their entire history!! Yet he gets no blame for it but lovie always got the blame when the offense struggled. .hmm i wonder why that was. Maybe because one is black and one is white…

          • Erik Lambert

            Now you’re just making stuff up, James. How does a football argument degenerate into a question of black or white? The point being made is that Smith suffered through the injuries and had arguably the worst offense in franchise history. If he were as good as you claim, he should’ve been able to do better than 5-11. Trestman had the worst defense in franchise history but went 8-8. The point is Smith proved unable to consistently make adjustments throughout his tenure in Chicago. That is why he had so many offensive coordinators. Trestman got plenty of blame for the finish last season but remember he was compelled to keep Smith’s scheme on defense despite having to hire a new coaching staff. Yet in spite of it all he rallied the troops and came seconds away from a playoff berth.

            Play the race card if you want, but it’s a dead end.

          • Bobby Anderson

            But he didn’t make the playoffs so once again it doesn’t matter. You guys have a tendency to set the bar too low. If the steelers or patriots how do you think the fans would feel?

        • Bobby Anderson

          You’re comparing apples to oranges. This team should have went at least 10-6 with Rogers out and a down year with Detroit and minne. The same injuries?? You kidding me?

          • Erik Lambert

            Look at the stats, Bobby. The 2004 Bears lost several key defensive starters and their starting quarterback just like the 2013 Bears did. Yet the first lost three more games than the second.

          • Bobby Anderson

            Strength of schedule? Who did both teams lose to? “Key” is opinionated.

        • Dale Holmgren

          People may say the jury is still out on Trestman, but I say the jury is back, and the verdict is in. First of all, this is Emery’s team, not Trestman’s. Second, this is the finest GM/HC combo in the NFL, and third, with the changes Emery has made in only 3 years, he has totally re-made this team, and I predict multiple Super Bowls, the team is that good. We have depth everywhere except safety. The only move I have ever questioned of Emery’s was Shea McClellin at DE because he was too light, but now Emery has fixed the problem by moving him to LB. Even though McClellin’s experience at LB has been on the weak side, I wish they would put him at MLB and let Briggs, Bostic and Greene compete for the outside spots. Emery has been heaven-sent as a GM, the best the Bears have had since Jim Finks. This team is on the verge of greatness.

  • Dr. Johnny Nacho

    This article needs to be written…and will be over and over in about 4 years. Until then, too hard to compare w/ such a short body of work for Trestman.

    Ironically enough, Tampa Bay used every draft pick on the offensive side of the ball in the 2014 draft. Let that sink in for a moment…..looks like Lovie is learning from his mistakes.

    • Erik Lambert

      Too bad he couldn’t learn from them while he was still in Chicago. Keep in mind this article is a year by year comparison. Full body of course it’s too early. However you must admit Trestman is off the blocks faster.

      • Jermell Brown

        Lovie did a damn Good job with our Defense the D was breaking records the last year he was here! Teams worry about playing against our D we were getting turn over after turn over!!! I hope are offense can do the same but Lovie deserves a lot more credit than U gave him!!!!

        • Erik Lambert

          Don’t broaden the subject Jermell. This article is examining Lovie and Trestman from a year by year basis. Lovie was undoubtedly one of the best defensive coaches of the past decade and what he accomplished should be celebrated. However, the mark of a head coach isn’t defensive success but team success.

          • Jermell Brown

            Every coach look for tht other coach to compliment them on the other side of the ball. U pick a OC and hope he can get the job done. It wasn’t Lovie draft picks because he wasn’t the GM plus Lovie didn’t pick the first OC in his first year with the Bears. I got Trestman back I just think u rush this article it just not enough to compare yet. Plus Trestman got a way better GM than Lovie had!!!

          • Bobby Anderson

            You call last year team success? Defensively we were embarrassing!! There is no comparing these 2 yet. Pick the lovie Super Bowl year since we are picking and choosing.

          • Erik Lambert

            Do I compare an 8-8 start by a new Bears coach to a 5-11 start by another a greater success? Yes.

          • Bobby Anderson

            2 teams that did NOT make the playoffs. Don’t set your standards so low!

    • bearisity

      So many years of watching the bears and seeing the draft picks that were suppose to be something only to fall by the way side.
      I enjoy how the new regime has included the fans in everything. Not to mention one draft has shown so much potential. Just waiting to see the results of this one.

  • Kirk Devries

    The Bears and Lovie both needed change. I wish Lovie well in Tampa. So glad to have a new GM and Coach.

    • Erik Lambert

      Well said on all counts, Kirk.

    • Bobby Anderson

      Definitely looking forward to next season!!

  • Rennik

    Don’t mind James, Eric, obviously he is racist and is trying the old race card which is becoming old hat now. Anytime someone starts talking about race when the conversation had nothing to do with race, then you know they are racist . I see this all the time now. Racism comes from every race.

    • Erik Lambert

      Thank you, Rennik. I too reached that conclusion and have since grown bored with him.

    • Jermell Brown

      Lovie didn’t get to pick his own player. He wasn’t the GM so tht unfair and still to this day defense win superbowl not offense. U can go ask Seattle about tht!!!

      • Erik Lambert

        Actually multiple sources close to the Bears said Jerry Angelo picked the players primarily when Lovie took over then as the years went on he got more and more say in the draft room.

    • Bobby Anderson

      Fanning the flames is making it better I’m sure.