It went from bad to worse in 2014 for Marc Trestman. As head coach of the Chicago Bears, he took a team with ever-growing expectations and majorly underachieved, finishing the season bottom of the NFC North with a 5-11 record.
Trestman will be pleased to put that season behind him, and now he can focus on being the new offensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens.
Time for change
On offense, the Bears struggled last term, ranking 21st in overall offense. They ranked 15th in passing offense and a poor 27th in rushing offense. When you have the likes of Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffrey, Matt Forte and Martellus Bennett at your disposal, that’s pretty unacceptable.
Dealing with Cutler
The one player that connects all those stars is quarterback Jay Cutler, and he was a major reason why the Bears struggled in 2014.
Cutler’s 18 picks was tied with Philip Rivers for most in the NFL, and he finished first in total turnovers by a quarterback with a frightening 30.
Cutler’s struggles played a major role in the Bears’ disappointing season of offense, so the blame can’t solely be placed on Trestman.
One area you can fault Trestman for, however, was his reluctance to run the ball.
Matt Forte is one of the most underrated running backs in the NFL, and he has the ability to wear opposing defenses down.
At times it was astonishing seeing Trestman’s refusal to turn to Forte.He instead placed the ball in Cutler’s hands, despite the fact Cutler just kept on turning the football over.
A perfect example of this was during the week four game against the Green Bay Packers. The Packers’ run defense was struggling majorly to stop Forte. Rather than pounding the ball with Forte and then utilising the play-action game, Trestman went pass-first, and Cutler’s two second-half interceptions cost them the game.
Now in Baltimore
In Baltimore, Trestman will have a much more reliable player under centre.
In comes ice cool Joe Flacco - the man who lead the Ravens to a Super Bowl victory two years ago.
While Flacco is far from the elite level of an Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady, he knows how to get it done in crunch time, especially in the playoffs:
Flacco has a 10-5 record in the playoffs, and hasn’t thrown an interception in 9 of his 15 playoff games. He has thrown for 3,223 yards, 25 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions in the playoffs.
As the sixth seed in 2014, Flacco was fantastic on the road against the Steelers, leading the Ravens to a stunning 30-17 victory, before almost doing the same in Foxboro the following week against the Patriots.
Trestman has a winner in Flacco, and he will be able to get the best out of him in 2015.
I think this is an excellent move by the Ravens. With good quarterback play, Trestman can succeed. In 2013, Josh McCown was great while Cutler was injured, and he helped lead the Bears to fifth-best in the passing rankings.
He will need to show more willingness to run the ball, and should Justin Forsett re-sign, they have a talented back who they can lean on. Finding the right mix of handing the ball off to Forsett and then airing it out with Flacco will be crucial to Trestman’s success.
This is a positive move for the Baltimore Ravens, and if Trestman can replicate on offense what he was able to achieve with the 2013 Bears, the Ravens will be hard to stop in 2015.