The Chicago Bears hired Montreal Alouettes coach Marc Trestman on Wednesday to replace the fired Lovie Smith and gave him two basic tasks — fix the offense and lead the team to the playoffs on a consistent basis.
How he meshes with quarterback Jay Cutler could go a long way toward determining his success.
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.
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Trestman wasted little time starting to assemble his staff. A person familiar with the situation said the Bears hired New Orleans Saints offensive line coach Aaron Kromer as their offensive coordinator, hoping to revive a unit that often sputtered with Mike Tice calling the plays.
Kromer served as the Saints' head coach for six games this season while interim coach Joe Vitt was suspended for his role in the bounty scandal. Saints Coach Sean Payton had to sit out the year.
The Dallas Cowboys, meanwhile, reported on their website that special teams coach Joe DeCamillis was leaving to become Chicago's assistant head coach/special teams coordinator.
For Chicago, the moves come after a 10-win season in which the Bears fell apart after winning seven of their first eight games.
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.
"He's been successful wherever he's been," Cutler told the Bears' website. "He's from the West Coast coaching tree, which I'm familiar with. It's what I came into the league with, with (Mike) Shanahan (with the Broncos in 2006), so I'm looking forward to it. He understands quarterbacks."
In recent years, Trestman has worked as a consultant in the NFL and in the off-season helped quarterbacks entering the league. 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 oversaw a top defense with stars such as Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs but could not solve the issues on the other side of the ball.
Lewis rolling, still retiring
Ray Lewis sure doesn't look like an aging linebacker on the brink of retirement.
With 30 tackles in his last two games, the Baltimore Ravens defensive leader appears as if he could play at a high level for several more years.
That's not going to happen. In spite of his standout performance this month and the pleasure he's derived from Baltimore's run to the AFC championship game, Lewis remains adamant that he will retire after the Ravens complete their post-season journey.
"No, I can't come back," Lewis said Wednesday. "My kids are calling for Daddy. It's a great reward to see the sacrifice my babies have made for me, and it's time that I sacrificed for them."
The 37-year-old Lewis announced on Jan. 2 that he would retire after Baltimore's playoff run is completed. Since that time, he's provided his teammates with inspiration in the locker room and magnificent play on the field.
"He's a guy that still plays the game at a high level," Ravens defensive end Arthur Jones said. "You would think he was 21, 22, watching him out there, flying around."