Hutton: Marc Trestman’s job should be on the line next year
I was continually stupefied by this strange phenomena: The free pass that Bears coach Marc Trestman received this season for what was a pretty mediocre performance. It’s too early in his tenure to ask for his job on a platter, but it wasn’t a great rookie year for the coach.
This thought occurred to me as I watched a very average Packers team almost beat the 49ers on Sunday in the playoffs: Something is totally out of whack in the NFL if a 12-4 team needs a field goal on the final play to defeat an 8-7-1 Green Bay squad that was racked with injuries. That’s parity at its finest.
That brings me to Trestman and the Bears. Chicago, it seems, was so starved for some offense they glossed over the fact that Trestman is Lovie Smith in reverse right now.
He can coach up the offense but he is going to perpetually be searching for that take-them-to-the-next-level defensive coordinator. I’m not sure it’s fair to say that Trestman is a great offensive mind just yet.
He was blessed with offensive gifts that Smith didn’t have last year. Namely, a much improved offensive line and a pair of wide receivers — Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery — that were pretty darn good.
The way I viewed the season was that a more experienced coach, like say Smith, wouldn’t have blown two games for the Bears and the defense, which admittedly was beset with injuries, would’ve still figured out a way not to give up the most rushing yards per carry of any team in the NFL (5.3 yards per carry).
Then the loss to the Packers in the final week would not have mattered. The overtime loss to Minnesota, when Trestman made Robbie Gould try a 47-yard field goal on second down and the home field defeat to the Lions should fall squarely on Trestman’s postseason evaluation as his screw ups. The Lions loss was unnecessary if Trestman starts a healthy Josh McCown instead of finishing the game with him. Instead, the Bears were addled with a gimpy Jay Cutler.
Cutler is clearly Trestman’s guy — and your guy, too, if you are a Bears fan whether you like it or not — but he shouldn’t have played that game at all. Add it all up and the Bears should be 10-6, not 8-8, if they have just a little better judgment from the head coach. Yet Trestman gets cut lots of slack because A) the Bears aren’t used to making the playoffs, B) the fans and media generally have low expectations anyway, and C) Trestman and general manager Phil Emery were standup guys.
Smith, for all his faults (he didn’t reveal much publicly and when he did, people generally didn’t like what he said), was 84-66 with the Bears and he did take them to a Super Bowl. I eagerly await the next chapter of the Trestman era, but don’t be fooled by the gaudy offensive numbers and his easy going public approach.
Last time I checked, it’s still a result- oriented business and the Bears, no matter who played quarterback for them, should’ve been playing the 49ers Sunday, not the Packers, if there was some better game-day coaching.
Setting records: Say this about Valparaiso High School graduate Brad Karp. He has made a remarkable career for himself at St. Xavier, an NAIA school on the south side of Chicago.
Karp is averaging 28.1 points per game and he is just 42 points shy of becoming the all-time scoring leader at St. Xavier. He’ll likely break the record on Saturday against IU-South Bend. At VHS, Karp was a good player, but he averaged just 13 points per game his senior year.
There was never any indication that he would be one of the greatest NAIA players ever. Karp never had any Division I offers.
It’s clear that he’d be a great Division I player now, but that might not have been clear had he gone to Valparaiso University, which offered him a preferred walk-on spot. He probably wouldn’t have played much there — at least early on. At St. Xavier, he was a double digit scorer as a freshman and he was able to play every position on the court. Karp, who is majoring in Biology, will likely have a chance to play in Europe for a long time if he chooses to play professionally.
The lesson here is that a Division I scholarship doesn’t mean nearly as much if you don’t get to play often.