CHICAGO — The Bears hired Montreal Alouettes coach Marc Trestman on Wednesday to replace the fired Lovie Smith, hoping he can get the most out of quarterback Jay Cutler and make Chicago a playoff team on a consistent basis.
It's the first head coaching job in the NFL for Trestman, a longtime assistant in the league who spent the past five seasons coaching the CFL's Alouettes and led them to two Grey Cup titles.
Trestman was an offensive coordinator with Cleveland, San Francisco, Arizona and Oakland.
Chicago general manager Phil Emery cast a wide net in his search, meeting with at least 13 candidates. Besides Trestman, he also brought back Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and the Indianapolis Colts' Bruce Arians for second interviews.
Smith was let go after nine years, ending a run that included a trip to the Super Bowl but also saw Chicago miss the playoffs five of the past six seasons.
The Bears, who have scheduled a news conference for Thursday morning, are turning to the 57-year-old Trestman in part because of his background with quarterbacks.
He worked with Bernie Kosar as an assistant at the University of Miami and again when he was on the Browns' staff in the 1980s. Trestman helped the Raiders reach the Super Bowl at the end of the 2002 season with an offense he geared for Rich Gannon, the league's MVP that year.
In recent years, Trestman has worked as a consultant in the NFL and in the offseason helped develop quarterbacks entering the league — including Cutler. His biggest task will be maximizing the man behind center and getting the offense to click.
That's something that never really happened under Smith, who helped build a top defense around stars such as Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs but never could solve the issues on the other side of the ball. The Bears' offense never ranked higher than 15th under Smith, and the problems in that area along with the postseason misses ultimately led to his dismissal.