In the end, Jimmy Johnson was right.
The former Cowboys and Dolphins coach said Friday that Montreal Alouettes coach Marc Trestman would become the next head coach of the Bears and, five days later, that’s precisely what Trestman is.
And so the Bears are making the type of outside-the-box move that Johnson’s former boss in Dallas, Jerry Jones, recently suggested NFL franchises may need to make to break the cycle of parity.
In Tuesday’s edition of Pro Football Talk, Erik Kuselias suggested that perhaps Johnson’s tweet was a trial balloon aimed at gauging fan and media reaction to the prospect of hiring a head coach who has been out of the NFL for eight years. The fact that the Bears had no other candidates who jumped off the page as obvious “A”-listers possibly contributed to the absence of a strong negative reaction to Trestman.
Or perhaps there was no strong negative reaction to Trestman because no one really knows what to think about him, since he’s been out of the NFL’s sight for so long. He spent 17 years as an NFL assistant with the Vikings, Bucs, Browns, 49ers, Lions, Cardinals, Raiders, and Dolphins, never getting a chance to become a head coach at the highest level of the sport in the more usual way.
Trestman still has plenty of supporters. Former NFL coaches Bud Grant and Marv Levy have vouched for him, as has Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young.
But Trestman largely remains an unknown commodity, and the biggest unknown is and will be his ability to work with quarterback Jay Cutler, who has one year left on his contract. Trestman may decide after the coming year that he doesn’t want Cutler. Cutler may decide after the coming year that he doesn’t want Trestman.
Of course, the fact that Trestman helped mentor Cutler before the 2006 draft may help the two get along now; the Bears were sure to make that point in the official release announcing the hire.
All we know at this point is that the lawyer-turned-coach will finally get his chance to run an NFL team of his own, and the stakes will be fairly high, for plenty of people.