Marc Trestman’s Intelligence Is a Double Edged Sword
Sean Jensen at the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that at least three finalists for the Bears head coaching job have been determined: Marc Trestman, Bruce Arians and Darrell Bevell.
Trestman is said to be the front runner. John Mullin at CSNChicago.com explains one reason why when he reports that Trestman spent eight hours meeting with Emery in their first interview. That’s a pretty good indication that there was a connection between the two. By contrast Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times says that Rick Dennison‘s interview only lasted a couple hours and Dennison said he was unsure how it went.
Trestman’s candidacy is sure to be damaged by former boss Jimmy Johnson‘s tweet implying that Trestman had the job. Emery is undoubtedly influenced by his own former boss, Scott Pioli, who is known throughout the league for his secretive nature. As commentator Hub Arkush stated the other day on Chicago Tribune Live, Emery has plugged the leaks that existed at Halas Hall under former general manager Jerry Angelo. Despite the fact that is was undoubtedly a simple misunderstanding, Emery’s not likely to be overly impressed by a candidate who is talking too much to former colleagues.
Setting that aside, the possibility that the Bears might hire Trestman fascinates me. This quote from Pro Football Weekly‘s Audibles section provides a little insight into why:
“Marc Trestman’s offenses were so complex that his players could not learn it. He’s a lawyer who overcooks the game. That is why he has not gotten back in the NFL. Your quarterback has got to be able to understand the offense. There are not many that can handle everything he puts on their plates.”
Somewhat in line with that we have this comment from Bob LeGere at the Daily Herald:
“Critics wonder why, if Trestman is such a genius, he has been out of the NFL since 2004. But it’s difficult to find anyone who has worked with him who doesn’t believe he’s the smartest guy in the room.”
When I was working in a laboratory at Loyola University in Chicago I was friends with a fellow employee who was also one of the smartest guys I’ve ever known. And as a research scientist I know a lot of smart people. The problem is that, like a lot of smart people, Rolf was always trying to do things “the smart way”.
I remember, for instance, the day that he got a new computer. Now most of us “normal people” would start the process of setting a new device up by installing all of the programs that we normally use from disk (or now a days, from a downloaded installation file). This is an annoying process that can take up most of a morning but you have to do it.
Not Rolf. Rolf wanted to do it the “smart way”. He decided that, because the new computer was identical in almost all aspects to his old computer, he should be able to simply duplicate the set up by copying everything over from one to the other. In theory this should have worked. In reality it didn’t (we could talk about why but that’s not the point here). Because it “should” have worked, Rolf decided to find out why it didn’t. He spent a solid week working on the problem, calling the company and trying different potential solutions. As you might have guessed, he ended up installing all of the programs just like the rest of us when it was all said and done.
The point of this story is that being smart can only take you so far in life because part of being successful is knowing when to simply take the easy solution without embellishment. This sounds like it was Trestman’s problem when he was working in the NFL.
The good news is that Trestman has found success in his current role which is a pretty good indication that something has changed. Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune quotes Montreal general manager Jim Popp on Trestman, who has been serving as the Alouettes head coach:
“A lot of guys want to be head coaches. Some leave the NFL to go to NCAA schools and then once they’ve proven themselves all of a sudden those college coaches are some of the hot commodity to be an NFL coach. It’s no different. Coach Trestman has run a professional team as a head coach for five years. He’s had a winning record for five years. He’s proven himself as a head coach at a professional level. You can call it what you want, but on-hand training as a head coach and proof goes a long way, goes a real long way. You can’t replace that.”
I like what I read about Trestman. He’s competed in three Grey Cups and won two of them. I heard one writer for The National Football Post who is familiar with Trestmen both from his time in the NFL and Canada compare him to Bill Belichick and I can easily believe it.
I want my team’s head coach to be the smartest guy in the room. As long as he’s not just sharp enough to cut himself.