Oakland Raiders: Head Coaching Candidates if Harbaugh Goes to Michigan?

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Nov 27, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman during the fourth quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Detroit won 34-17. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Marc Trestman

Marc Trestman is another current NFL head coach who may find himself out of a job. Trestman, who had unbelievable success as a head coach in the CFL, took over the Chicago Bears last season and is a seasoned NFL assistant, having had his first NFL job with the Vikings in 1985. Trestman is widely respected as an offensive guru and quarterback whisperer, having been part of some of the great offensive teams in league history, including the 49ers in the mid-90’s and the Raiders in the early 2000’s. The Bears brought him in to try to maximize the value of their very talented offensive roster with Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte, only to see  Cutler go down midway through the year. Trestman was credited with helping veteran journeyman Josh McCown make the most of his five starts in that time, as McCown led the team to three wins and threw 13 TD’s to only one INT. Chicago finished a mediocre 8-8, but also finished ranked 2nd in points scored, eighth in total offense and fifth in passing offense, despite the issues with injuries at the quarterback position.

Of course, much like Ryan, Trestman is very flawed as a head coach. With his bookish demeanor and quiet personality, he doesn’t seem to have the presence necessary to truly lead a team, as evidenced by the infighting and frustration going on in the Bears locker room this year as the team has fallen to 5-9. Chicago’s offense, with a healthy Cutler all year long, hasn’t put up that many points, they’ve struggled to run the ball at all, Cutler has thrown a lot of interceptions, and the defense has been abysmal for a second straight year. The Bears defense, among the best in the league for years under Lovie Smith, has been atrocious under Trestman, finishing 30th overall last year and on pace to finish 30th overall again and dead last in scoring this year. With Trestman now going with backup Jimmy Clausen to finish up the year, it’s likely the Bears will finish 5-11 and Trestman will likely find himself out of a job after only two years.

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Former Bears coach Marc Trestman to XFL Tampa
Former Bears coach Marc Trestman to XFL Tampa /

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  • It’s unlikely that Trestman will have a lot of suitors as a head coaching candidate in the NFL. He’s currently 13-17 as an NFL head coach and his tenure with the Bears may have cemented his “assistant for life” status.  But, with a young quarterback to develop and the desperation of being a team that doesn’t tend to attract the most qualified candidates for coaching jobs, the Raiders may re-connect with Trestman, who was part of the staff the last time the Raiders were winners. Trestman will enter a scenario he isn’t quite used to, at least as an NFL coach, developing a very young QB with an unproven group of receivers and backs around him. As offensive coordinator in San Francisco he worked with Steve Young and Jerry Rice, and as the OC in Oakland he worked with Rice, Rich Gannon and Tim Brown.  In Chicago he’s had Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall. With this Raider team, he will work with Derek Carr, James Jones, Mychal Rivera and Rod Streater. It could be an opportunity for him to really immerse young players in his philosophy and system, or it could show that Trestman’s genius only really ever worked with veteran players who had already been successful.

    Trestman is probably at his best as an offensive coordinator, not a head coach. He can focus his energy on his innovative and intricate offense, where he has had proven success in this league already. He could find himself as Jim Harbaugh’s offensive coordinator, in fact: Harbaugh worked under Trestman in Oakland in 2002, and is on record saying he learned everything he knew from Trestman. Trestman would also be a good fit as an OC for Rex Ryan, provided Ryan gets out of Trestman’s way and gives Trestman the quality playmakers he needs to make his offense work. As a head coach, however, Trestman is probably one of the least attractive options for the Raiders.

    Next: College coaches to consider