When Marc Trestman was introduced as the Montreal Alouettes' head coach in 2007, he set a record for ''winning the press conference'' by literally speaking their language with the first words out of his mouth: ''Je m'appelle Marc Trestman,'' he said. For the record, that's "I'm Marc Trestman'' in French.
Odds are that the articulate, erudite and chronically civil Trestman will win the press conference today when he is introduced as the Bears' head coach at 11 a.m. at the Halas Hall auditorium. But no matter what he says or how he says it, if the Rod Marinelli situation isn't settled by the time he steps up to the lectern, winning the press conference might not mean that much.
Trestman has to get the coordinators right. If he doesn't hire Marinelli, then Plan B should already be set in motion by the time he speaks to the media today. His 17 years as an NFL assistant have prepared him to handle the Jay Cutler part of the Bears' equation. But today, it's the five years as head coach of the Alouettes' that figure most prominently. How well can he evaluate coaches? How quickly and decisively can he act to find the right guy?
We already know how critical it is. You can argue that Trestman is here today because of Lovie Smith's failure to hire coordinators he could live with in his first week as the Bears' head coach in 2004. The hiring of Ron
Rivera as defensive coordinator and Terry Shea as offensive coordinator ultimately set Lovie's ship off-course.
He wanted Marinelli as his defensive coordinator, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would not allow the Bears to interview him. Smith reportedly wanted to hire Bob Babich for the job, but was persuaded by Jerry Angelo to hire somebody with more experience. He settled on Ron Rivera, but fired him -- technically he didn't re-hire him -- after successful seasons in 2005 and 2006 to go in a different direction with Bob Babich as defensive coordinator.
Regrettably, that direction was straight down. The Bears' defense struggled under Babich, and Smith took over in 2009 and eventually ended up with Marinelli as his defensive coordinator in 2010.
As it turned out, the hiring of Shea was even more detrimental to the Lovie regime. Shea, the Kansas City Chiefs quarterbacks coach, was Smith's first choice as offensive coordinator -- the legendary Bill Walsh was among Shea's biggest supporters. But it took a week to negotiate the deal, with Shea actually needed a day to sleep on it and decide if he wanted a promotion. The situation was tenuous enough that the Bears reportedly interviewed a Plan B candidate -- former Oakland Raiders offensive coordinator Marc Trestman.
What goes around comes around. Now it's Trestman who has to get it right and while hiring Aaron Kromer as offensive coordinator and Joe DeCamillis as special teams coordinator is a good start, it's the defensive coordinator who likely will have the biggest role in defining the Trestman era.
The good news is that Trestman has plenty of experience hiring defensive coordinators. This will be the fifth one he's hired in the last four years. He had just hired his fourth defensive coordinator in four seasons with the Alouettes -- Noel Thorpe replaced Jeff Reinebold, who had replaced Tim Tibesar, who had replaced Tim Burke.
On the other hand, that's a lot of defensive coordinators. Burke left for the same job with the Winnepeg Blue Bombers. Tibesar left for the same position at Purdue. Reinebold was fired after last season -- only the second assistant Trestman fired in his five seasons in Montreal.
Trestman has a solid core of assistants in his first three seasons. But dealt with a lot of turnover in the last two. Michael Sinclair, the former Seahawks Pro Bowl defensive end who was Trestman's defensive line coach since 2008, resigned after last season with one year left on his contract and took the same job with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Trestman's offensive coordinator, Marcus Brady, left after last season to take the same job with the Toronto Argonauts and coach Scott Milanovich -- who was Trestman's offensive coordinator prior to getting the head coaching job with the Argonauts.
Some have suggested that the obsessively detailed Trestman is difficult to work for. Whether he is or not, he has a huge job ahead of him. Confidence is high that he can ''fix'' Jay Cutler and the offense -- that's what he does. But hiring a stable, solid staff that can maintain the defense as its core of Pro Bowl caliber players ages its way out of the NFL is just as critical. And with Marc Trestman, a bigger unknown.