Oakland Raiders: Marc Trestman as OC Would Be Major Coup for Franchise


Dec 28, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman answers questions from the media after the game with the Minnesota Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium. The Vikings win 13-9. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Apparent new Raider Head Coach Jack Del Rio is apparently interested in hiring Marc Trestman as his offensive coordinator. Trestman, who was most recently the Head Coach of the Chicago Bears, has had some interest from around the league, most notably from the Cleveland Browns, who have also interviewed him for the position.

Some Raider fans have expressed their desire to see another offensive coordinator in Silver and Black next year, like Al Saunders or Hue Jackson. While both coaches had some success as offensive coordinators in Oakland in the past, neither has the type of strong track record that Trestman has. Trestman is a veteran coach with decades of experience and success, having worked with some of the most respected coaches and players in the league’s history and having helped maximize the performances of many players as an assistant.

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Trestman has long experience as an NFL assistant coach, most of it as either a quarterbacks coach or offensive coordinator, enough to take up multiple pages of content, but here are some of the highlights:

With the University of Miami in 1983 and 1984, he was the quarterbacks coach for both Bernie Kosar and Vinny Testaverde.

Trestman was also the quarterbacks coach under Marty Schottenheimer in Cleveland in 1988. That year is the year best remembered as the year Bernie Kosar went down twice, then backups Mike Pagel and Gary Danielson also went down, and mid-season acquisition and old man Don Strock came in and led the team to some key wins that helped them get into the playoffs.

Strock had some of his best performances in his long pro career that year, and Trestman’s ability to maximize the play of the various quarterbacks led to him being retained and promoted despite the firing of Schottenheimer that offseason.

Following Miami and a second stint in coaching Kosar, Trestman worked with a young Rich Gannon as QB’s coach in Minnesota in 1990 and 1991, during which time Gannon had his first 23 NFL starts.

He was the 49ers offensive coordinator in 1995 and 1996 on a staff that included Pete Carroll, with a roster that included Steve Young and Jerry Rice. Despite Young missing significant time in both years, the 49ers finished near the top in total offense and scoring offense in those two years, and Jerry Rice had his career high in both receptions and receiving yards in 1995, catching 122 passes for 1,848 yards.

In two years in Trestman’s offense, Rice had 230 receptions for 3,102 yards and 23 TD’s. Trestman also managed to get solid production from backup quarterback Elvis Grbac during periods where Young was hurt: Grbac threw for over 2,700 yards and 16 TDs over that two-year stretch in which he had nine starts.

Trestman was quarterbacks coach with the Raiders in 2001 and was then promoted to Offensive Coordinator in 2002 after Jon Gruden’s departure.  In 2002, under Trestman, the Raiders had the top offense in the league, and Rich Gannon had an MVP season with career marks in completions, attempts, completion percentage and yards.

Running back Charlie Garner also had a career year for Trestman in 2002, gaining nearly 2,000 yards from scrimmage. The quarterbacks coach of the Raiders that year was a young Jim Harbaugh, only recently retired as a player, in his first NFL coaching job. Harbaugh has stated that Trestman taught him everything he knows about coaching offenses, though Harbaugh’s offensive style is vastly different than Trestman’s.

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

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  • Trestman was the Head Coach of the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes from 2008 to 2012, during which time the team had unprecedented success. The team went to the Grey Cup final and lost in his first year, then won the Grey Cup back to back in 2009 and 2010. During his time in Montreal, his offenses were generally the best or among the best in the league, and his quarterback Anthony Calvillo was MVP of the CFL in 2009 and 2010. Thanks to Trestman, Calvillo became the all-time leading passer in pro football history while wideout Ben Cahoon set career records in the CFL as two veteran talents extended years onto their careers thanks to his offensive mind.

    Because of that success, Trestman is one of the few CFL coaches to parlay his success north of the border into a NFL head coaching job by becoming the Chicago Bears boss after one of the better offensive runs in Canadian league history.

    Trestman returned to the NFL as Head Coach of the Chicago Bears in 2013, as the franchise sought to move in an offensive direction after years under defensive-minded coach Lovie Smith. While the Bears defense was absolutely horrid in both years Trestman was the head coach, the Bears offense improved dramatically under Trestman, improving from 28th to 8th in the league in total offense from 2012 to 2013 (gaining an average of 71.25 more yards per game).  Quarterback Jay Cutler, despite missing five games due to injury, matched his touchdown total from the year before.

    Backup quarterback Josh McCown, in five games, had perhaps his best year as a pro, throwing for 13 TD’s and only a single interception. Running back Matt Forte also had his best statistical year in 2013, scoring a career high 13 TD’s and gaining 1,933 yards from scrimmage, including a career-high 1,339 yards rushing. Young wideout Alshon Jeffrey also emerged in Trestman’s offense. The 2014 Bears offense, however, was far less potent, finishing only 21st in the league in total offense and struggling to run the ball at all.

    Cutler, who has averaged 1.1 interceptions per game over his entire career, threw a league-high 18 picks, and Matt Forte averaged a subpar 3.9 yards per carry. Trestman was fired by the Bears and has since been interviewed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Cleveland Browns regarding their vacancies at Offensive Coordinator.

    Trestman has over three decades of experience and has worked with some of the best coaches and players to pass through the league during those decades. He has experience working with young quarterbacks to improve their game, as well as getting competent play from the quarterback position despite injuries, as he has shown at multiple points in his career. Trestman would be an amazing mentor to the young Derek Carr, and could teach the young quarterback how to be a consistent and productive passer in this league at a high level.  He could also makeover the Raider offense, especially if the right pieces are added in the draft and free agency in this upcoming offseason.

    His offensive philosophy involves a lot of quick high-percentage passes, utilizing every eligible receiver on the field, notably the running backs. In San Francisco, Oakland, Montreal and in Chicago, his running backs were among the team leaders in receptions, and posted staggering total yards from scrimmage totals. If anyone can find a way to maximize the abilities of versatile fullback Marcel Reese, it’s Trestman, who has also been a running backs coach in the past and got a lot of production out of backs Derrick Loville, Terry Kirby, Charlie Garner, and Matt Forte and also spent a year working with stellar receiving fullback Larry Centers in Arizona.

    With Jack Del Rio in place as the head coach, the Raiders have a capable “big picture” man who led a team with inferior quarterback talent to the playoffs twice and who has extensive experience as a defensive coach. If the team can indeed land the experienced and brilliant offensive mind that is Trestman, it should help the team add that quality offensive punch that Del Rio never had in Jacksonville, and will allow for the development of the young Derek Carr into a true standout franchise quarterback in the years to come.  By aggressively courting and recruiting Trestman, Del Rio is showing that he is definitely the right man to be the next Raiders head coach.