The ongoing drama surrounding NFL interest in Montreal Alouettes' coach Marc Trestman and general manager Jim Popp took a new twist Friday, and one from a surprising source. Fox NFL analyst Jimmy Johnson (yes, the former coach of the Miami Hurricanes and the Dallas Cowboys, amongst other teams) sent out a tweet early Friday morning suggesting that Trestman (who worked with Johnson with the Hurricanes) was getting the Chicago Bears' job he'd been linked with:
Looks like 2 of my guys getting NFL jobs..Chud Cleveland and my QB coach at U Trestman to Chicago
— Jimmy Johnson (@JimmyJohnson) January 11, 2013
That led to plenty of retweets and attention, including an edit of Trestman's Wikipedia page. However, all indications are that Johnson was premature here. Sean Jensen of The Chicago Sun-Times reported that while Trestman is in the running, the Bears are still conducting interviews with other candidates and no decision's expected for a while. Moreover, Trestman himself told Herb Zurkowsky that he hasn't been hired yet. In fact, Johnson himself later clarified that he only meant Trestman may be set for the job:
I tweeted this morning "It LOOKS like 2 of my guys were getting NFL jobs not that Trestman got it! — Jimmy Johnson (@JimmyJohnson) January 11, 2013
Still, as previously mentioned, the Bears are an exceptionally intriguing fit for Trestman. For one thing, new general manager Phil Emery is an outside-the-box type who's already spoken about how he uses advanced stats and one who's conducting a remarkably thorough coaching search. Both of those attributes might lead him to value a more unconventional candidate like Trestman (who has a remarkably impressive NFL background, but has been in the NCAA and then the CFL for most of the last decade) over a standard coordinator.
For another thing, Trestman is most known in NFL circles for the impressive results he's produced with quarterbacks (including Bernie Kosar, Rich Gannon, Scott Mitchell and Jake Plummer), and the Bears have an incredibly talented quarterback (but a frequently-blamed one) in Jay Cutler. One of Cutler's chief issues in Chicago has been how often he's hit; part of that's thanks to the Bears' well-known offensive line issues, but the quick drops and short, high-percentage passing game Trestman has often emphasized could certainly help fix that. Keep in mind that Trestman's offence has largely kept Montreal starter Anthony Calvillo (who turned 40 last year) upright and healthy. Moreover, Trestman is brilliant at emphasizing running backs who can serve as both rushers and receivers (see Avon Cobourne and Brandon Whitaker in the CFL), which the Bears definitely have in Matt Forte.
Trestman's offensive philosophy might go a long way towards fixing the Bears' issues, especially considering their talent. Moreover, he's a skilled motivator and is adept at handling egos, providing the right balance of support and discipline for players. See how he turned Alouettes' defensive back Dwight Anderson from troublemaker to contributor long after most thought that ship had sailed. Trestman's personnel-management skills could prove critical in a locker room that features big, sometimes-controversial personalities like Cutler, Forte, Brandon Marshall and the Bears' array of defensive stars. It's also worth noting that many of the players who have worked with him over the years have given him glowing reviews, including Gannon.
Anyway, there's still a long way to go before Trestman officially leaves for the Bears, and it's worth noting that other jobs he was linked to (such as Cleveland this year, plus the NCAA's Minnesota and Miami in the past) haven't panned out. Johnson's tweet can't be entirely ruled out, though; most indications are that Trestman's a strong contender for the Chicago job. That certainly doesn't mean he'll get it, but it does mean Alouettes' fans can't relax yet. They can take their fingers off the panic button for the moment, though.