|Trestman's QB success in Canada could carry over to Chicago. (US Presswire)|
When the Bears traded for Jay Cutler before the 2009 season, he was acquired to become their franchise quarterback. But for the last four years, Chicago hasn't built its team around Cutler, instead letting him get sacked into oblivion while playing second fiddle to the Bears' vaunted defense.
The hire of Marc Trestman on Wednesday morning changes all that. The Bears are finally committed toward making Cutler's success their top priority.
Cutler's as renown for his poorly-timed interceptions and sacks as he is his temperament on the sideline; since coming to Chicago, he has been sacked an average of 37 times over the past four years despite only playing an average of 14 games. (Yes, those two stats are correlated.)
The former Vanderbilt star has been forced to work with multiple offensive coordinators, none of whom ever seemed interested in his success, much less his safety. Mike Martz was hellbent on recreating his vaunted Rams offense in Chicago. But the only thing that got accustomed to the turf in the Windy City was Cutler's back.
Mike Tice, not exactly known for installing protections, was an offensive line "guru" who didn't help save Cutler or the Bears' offense in 2012.
Trestman has fixed a big-armed, sacked-to-death quarterback already: Anthony Calvillo, the Montreal Alouettes' quarterback, threw 17 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 2007 while getting sacked 68 (!) times before Trestman arrived in Montreal.
After Trestman took over, Calvillo saw a 2008 season in which he threw 43 touchdowns and 13 picks while only taking 22 sacks.
That's precisely the sort of turnaround the Bears, a traditionally defensive team, need from Cutler. They traded for him because they wanted a franchise quarterback, but they've never actually committed to Cutler as the face of their franchise. As much as he has been the quarterback in Chicago and unquestionably the guy whom they want running the offense, he's always been a secondary concern.
Part of that is the mindset of the organization, which has always been about defense and the Monsters of Midway and a team that dominated with defense before the game became primarily offensive the way it is now. Last week's divisional round featured four games that were all shootouts that weren't going to be won by teams who predicate their success on defense.
The Bears clearly recognize that with their hire of Trestman. They also understand Trestman is capable of getting an MVP season out of a guy later in his career; they saw as much when Trestman was the offensive coordinator for the Raiders in 2002, when current CBS Sports analyst and former NFL quarterback Rich Gannon lit the NFL up.
Gannon fully endorsed the Trestman hire for just that reason, saying the Alouettes' coach helped get him in "the zone" in 2002, when he threw for 4,689 yards, 26 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions. That 4,689 yards in 2002, by the way, is insane. It's not much in today's game, but it was the sixth-highest passing yards total then. Gannon had a monster season, and he believes Trestman can help get similar results out of Cutler.
"If you ask me, if there's one thing Chicago needs, it's someone to get Jay Cutler back on track," Gannon said recently. "If you look at [Cutler's] footwork and ballhandling, he has major issues. Some fundamental things have slipped by the wayside because he hasn't been coached properly. Marc could come in there and get him straightened out."
Phil Emery already made a savvy move before last year when he traded draft picks to the Dolphins to acquire Brandon Marshall, who in a single year has literally become the greatest wideout in Bears history.
It signaled a shift to the offensive end of things, but Trestman is a full-blown move to make the Bears competitive in today's NFL. They have the defensive talent, and a high-level defensive coordinator will make them dangerous in 2013 again.
The offense needs rejuvenating. That starts with getting Cutler's sacks down, getting his touchdowns up and increasing the number of points that the Bears can score.
If Trestman's history tells us anything, it's that he's capable of getting the most out of the Bears' offense. Changing the Bears' persona and flipping the narrative of Cutler's career won't be easy, but Emery's willingness to go out on a limb with the Trestman hire is the sort of outside-the-box thinking that the Bears need at this stage to take a leap forward.