Now that the "zone read option" has been making its rounds in the NFL -- a play that has been the mainstay of offences in the CFL for years -- it should come as no surprise the National Football League is also looking north of the border for help when it comes to protecting one of their star quarterbacks.
Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery told reporter Larry Mayer on the team's website multiple reasons why he hired Marc Trestman as the newest head coach of his football team. He listed Trestman's intellect, competitiveness and professionalism as key components of his winning sales pitch. My favourite reason, of course, was how Emery noted Trestman's ability to adapt to conditions in Canada as something he admired: "The mental toughness that it takes to go into some place that you've never been before, that they don't know you or anything about you, where they speak a foreign language."
The things we never even think about or consider, living up here on Mars. But I digress.
Do not kid yourself into believing Trestman is now the head coach of the Bears because he didn't know how to speak French and yet still won two championships. Marc Trestman is the head coach of the Chicago Bears because that organization wants him to do for Jay Cutler what he did for Anthony Calvillo -- take their quarterback from punching bag all the way to the promenade.
It has been noted several times in these column inches Calvillo was well on his way out of the CFL before Trestman arrived on the scene. Defensive linemen in Canada were having their way with Calvillo and it was widely speculated he was done, either by voluntary retirement or by physical incapacitation. He looked like his spirit was broken and his body wasn't far behind as the 2007 season came to a close.
When Trestman showed up in 2008 though, not only did he rejuvenate and resurrect Calvillo's career, but he implemented an offence more productive than any other during his five-year steamroll through the CFL.
Jay Cutler in 2012, just like Calvillo in 2007, was one of the most sacked and abused quarterbacks in the entire NFL. Since neither Calvillo nor Cutler are of the Brett Favre variety -- a pivot who was seemingly impervious to pain and even fed off it -- the more they get hit, the less productive and more prone to chucking and ducking they become.
There will be differences to be sure, but expect the 2013 version of the Bears' offence to revolve around protecting Cutler and getting the football out of his hands in the most expedient of fashions. Marc believes in sacrificing offensive options for QB security, so once Cutler gets used to the idea he is no longer a human pi±ata, he will stop flinching in the pocket and start executing on a more regular basis. And just like AC, Cutler plays his best football when his jersey is devoid of grass stains.
It is worth mentioning Trestman isn't exactly being set up for success down south. Out of all the head coaching vacancies available this year, he is taking over a team that actually had a winning record in 2012 at 10-6 and anything short of tying that mark will be viewed as a failure.
Furthermore, regardless of his 17 years of experience coaching in the NFL, and the fact he is American, the biggest criticism of Trestman was the fact his last gig was as a CFL head coach. Believe me when I say he will have to earn every ounce of respect not only from his players, but from the local media magistrates as well.
As a rookie player down south, NFL offensive linemen used to tell me how their coach would berate them by saying, "You just got beat by a Canadian!" whenever I was victorious in our individual drills. When you come from the Great White North and make your living in the States playing football, proving your worth is easier said than done.
Hopefully, Canadian phenom Israel Idonije can help pave the way for this Quebec coaching sensation in Chicago, as we all wait and see whether Trestman's systems and schemes translate to the NFL and whether he still remembers how to speak 'Merican.
Doug Brown, once a hard-hitting defensive lineman and frequently a hard-hitting columnist, appears Tuesdays and game days in the Free Press.