By Steve Silverman
(CBS) As the Bears introduce their new head coach Marc Trestman and hope that he can become their version of Marv Levy, Chip Kelly is also going through a similar process with the Philadelphia Eagles.
I’m not sure if Trestman is going to be successful, but he has a much better chance than Kelly does in Philadelphia.
Trestman has certainly earned his opportunity, going to the Canadian Football League like Levy did when he couldn’t get a head coaching opportunity in the NFL even though he had a reputation as an excellent offensive coordinator.
Trestman had great stints with the 49ers, Cardinals and Raiders where he developed as a solid tactician and strategist.
Still, there was something about Trestman that prevented him from becoming an NFL head coach. Perhaps that he was a bit too intellectual and that his playbook was too thick and too complicated.
Bringing Trestman in seemed like too much of a risk to those doing the hiring. But he went to three CFL championship games in five years and won two of them in Montreal. That’s just what Marv Levy did during his stay with the Alouettes and he got an opportunity with the Kansas City Chiefs before moving on to the Buffalo Bills.
While he didn’t win any of them, taking those Bills to four straight Super Bowls still resonates in the NFL. No other team has ever accomplished that feat.
Trestman will not be an easy guy to play for because his playbook is so large and complicated. He has been criticized by Jerry Rice in the past, but Rice has also praised him.
That’s part of the book on Trestman. It’s going to take a lot of effort to understand what he is trying to accomplish each week. Trestman’s gameplan one week could be significantly different the next.
He runs the West Coast offense, but it is a graduate-level course that requires a lot of study from the quarterback and receivers.
Jay Cutler is probably up to the task of learning it, but the receivers are going to be pushed to the max.
It is going to be a new world and Trestman needs them to get up to speed quickly if the Bears are finally going to have the kind of offense that can challenge the New Englands, Green Bays and New Orleans of the NFL world.
While his offense may be complicated, it is real and it is not smoke and mirrors.
He is not gimmicky. The same cannot be said about the Eagles’ new hire Chip Kelly.
The former Oregon coach is going to have a difficult time making his offense work in the NFL. If you look at the primary reason for his success at Oregon, you notice that his read-option attack was loaded with speedy players.
Kelly, the recruiter, got the fastest players at Oregon. He was a masterful recruiter with the help of Nike CEO Phil Knight, who is a major Oregon benefactor. Kelly is not going to get the equivalent of 20 first-round draft picks a year like he did with the Ducks. Instead, he will get one first-round pick per year.
Kelly’s offense is innovative, but when he was confronted with an opposing coach who had an answer, Kelly did not have a response.
That’s not going to get it done in the NFL. You must be a superb counterpuncher if you are going to win in the NFL. Having one favored way to attack is an open invitation to get hammered in the NFL.
Kelly’s offense puts his quarterback at risk. He might know more about the read option than other practitioners like Mike Shanahan with the Redskins or Pete Carroll with the Seahawks, but look what happened to Robert Griffin III in Washington. He is one of the finest athletes in the NFL, but his knee got wrecked in his first season and Russell Wilson may be just as much at risk.
So will whomever becomes the Eagles’ next quarterback.
Kelly comes across as an opportunist who wanted big NFL dollars. Trestman comes across as a football coach who wants an opportunity to wants to compete at the highest level.
That gives the Bears a big advantage.
Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman was with Pro Football Weekly for 10 years and his byline has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Playboy, NFL.com and The Sporting News. He is the author of four books, including Who’s Better, Who’s Best in Football — The Top 60 Players of All-Time. Follow him on Twitter (@profootballboy) and read more of his CBS Chicago columns here.