Marc Trestman believes wider field could enhance player safety

A wider field could benefit CFL veteran Marc Trestman and the Bears. (USATSI)

As part of its continual push to enhance player safety throughout the league, the NFL competition committee has reportedly considering widening the playing field to reduce the number of hits across the middle.

If approved, the 160-foot wide field could be expanded to be more comparable with the 195-foot wide field used in the Canadian Football League. The potential change could be beneficial for the Chicago Bears after the hiring of former Montreal Alouettes head coach Marc Trestman last month. Trestman, a former offensive coordinator with the 49ers and Raiders, spent five seasons with the Alouettes before returning to the NFL.

“I’ve got some plays if we ever go to a bigger field," Trestman said Thursday at the NFL scouting combine. "Player safety, as a head coach, is No. 1 on the agenda and it’s been a point of emphasis every day in the NFL. I’m for anything that looks more closely at player safety and it’s our feeling with the Bears that player safety is a No. 1 issue.”

If the NFL field is widened, the similarities between the leagues would end there. There are 12 players per side in CFL games and offenses are only given three downs per series. Trestman, though, indicated that blitz packages in both leagues are nearly the same.

“There are multiple differences, obviously but generally the ‘box’ is still the ‘box,’ the blitzes you see in the CFL are similar to the blitzes you see south of the border,” Trestman said. “It’s a different game (up north) but it’s a terribly exciting game.”

Warren Moon, a nine-time Pro Bowl quarterback and 2006 inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, spent the first six seasons of his professional career with the Edmonton Eskimos of the CFL. Moon told the National Football Post earlier this month that the changes could reduce the number of hits made on average by a lineman.

“A wide receiver doesn't get the number of hits a linebacker or lineman gets on a day-to-day basis,” Moon said. “Those hits accumulate over time and probably do more damage than a big hit a receiver might get a few times a season.”

A wider field could also help Jay Cutler open up the Bears’ offense.

“I’m excited to coach Jay,” Trestman said. “I’ve had a couple of opportunities to talk with him and am excited to work with him in all facets of his game. He’s an extremely bright guy, he loves football and has a great skill set. We’ve got to work hard to provide him the resources so he can to maximize his ability.” 

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