Chicago Tribune Bears reporter Rich Campbell covered Marc Trestman for the two years he was the head coach of the Chicago Bears.
He saw the way Trestman handled quarterback Jay Cutler and the rest of the team during its prolific 2013 offensive performance, then tough 2014 season.
We checked in with Campbell to get his take on what Trestman will bring to Baltimore. Here are the highlights of that discussion:
1. What are your overall impressions of the hire?
"I think it's a really good hire. I think the issues why Marc didn't succeed in Chicago had more to do with managing the team and the way the roster was put together. Marc constantly talked about a leadership style that was averse to hierarchal rules. He wanted to turn leadership of the team over to the players. He wanted to equip the players to lead themselves because they were connected interpersonally. In the final analysis, it wasn't a good fit for a roster that included a quarterback who is so inconsistent and a couple of other problems in different places in the locker room. … I think from an Xs and Os standpoint and teaching standpoint, I think Marc is going to be excellent. The other part of it is the Ravens have good players. If you have good players like that, you can utilize them with a good offensive mind, and Trestman has that."
2. What's Marc Trestman's personality like?
"Marc is a bit of a quiet guy. He's on the quiet side. But he cares a lot about winning and he cares a lot about the people he's working with. He's a nice guy, a person that invests in the people around him. So your interactions with him are genuine. He's a genuine guy who works hard and knows football, too. He's not the kind of guy that is going to lead by chewing players out, but he does have an intensity to him that shows when the moment requires it."
3. How do you think he'll get along with Joe Flacco?
"Really well. Marc has an understanding that in order to win players' respect and to get a player to follow you and listen to you, you've got to prove to that player that you can help them. That was the approach his entire coaching staff took in Chicago. Trestman will be a good communicator with Joe and really with everybody he works with. He's going to care about him. He's going to get to know him, not just as a football player, but as a guy and a family man. Trestman's specialty is at the quarterback position, so he's going to be a really easy guy to get along with."
4. What does Trestman do so well with quarterbacks to earn his nickname of "The Quarterback Whisperer."
"Well, he's worked with a lot of them going back to Bernie Kosar and Vinny Testaverde. He knows different types of guys. One of the things he liked to say a lot in Chicago, as the Jay Cutler and Josh McCown storylines started to evolve and run on parallel tracks, is that every quarterback has his own journey. It's an interesting concept, because he was with Rich Gannon, who really emerged as a high-level quarterback late in his career. Then he's been with quarterbacks who had success more immediately in their career. He's been around enough quarterbacks to know that every quarterback is different in how they evolve."
5. What are his greatest strengths?
"I think his relatability is really what stands out to me. He gets along with people. He understands what people care about and how to care about people. He understands what makes people tick. And therefore, he can coach. He gets guys to believe in him and be motivated. That's aside from all the Xs and the Os, and I think a lot of the great coaches in the NFL have that. What separates is whether you can relate to players and coach guys. The thing I always appreciated about Marc was the genuine interactions with him and the willingness to invest in people."
6. Is he flexible in his approach? Will he adapt to the Ravens' system?
"I think so. Marc isn't driven by ego or anything like that to the point where he would come in and say his way is the only way that works. He's going to be open, and he's rooted in West Coast principles just like Kubiak was, if you trace their lineage. They're going to focus on getting the ball out on time, footwork for a quarterback, dictating reads on when the ball should come out. Marc is a very open-minded person. He's intellectual. He would not be close-minded to the point where he thinks he has it figured out and there's not another way to do things. He's going to have a good back-and-forth with Joe Flacco and the offensive staff making it a collective effort on what they want to accomplish and what they feel comfortable doing."
7. How does he handle the run game?
"I think it left an awkward taste in people's mouth around here. The Bears had Matt Forte, and he was a critical part of their offense, touched the ball all the time, and his yards from scrimmage were at record-breaking levels when he was here. I just think when you had a quarterback like Jay, who would make mistakes mechanically and with decisions, running the ball was the best option. That's just my opinion. … In terms of the run game, Trestman talks about how you need balance and you need to run play-action to open up passing lanes and things like that. If that materializes then I think it will be a very good thing for the Ravens offense."
8. Does Trestman need big-bodied wide receivers like Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey?
"You get away with contested throws when you have guys with big catch radiuses. Obviously that helps. One of the things Marc emphasized when he was in Chicago, which I thought was rather profound, is that the NFL is a league of contested throws. He's right about that. You see all the great quarterbacks fitting throws into tight windows, and in Chicago, Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey helped Jay Cutler accomplish that. The key is you don't want to rely on that. As it relates to Cutler, he had so much trust in Marshall and Jeffrey that he would really rely on those contested throws more than the offense or coaching staff wanted him to. They wanted him to get through his progressions and hit guys that were open on throws that were higher percentage. That was a big emphasis with Cutler: higher percentage throws and increasing the completion percentage. He did that with checking down, but you have to find a balance. More than anything, you just need guys to get open more than the size."
9. Who in the Ravens offense benefits the most from this hire?
"I think Joe is going to really enjoy working with Marc, personally and professionally. … From an Xs and Os standpoint, I think Joe will be able to benefit from all the experience Marc has working with quarterbacks and what he's seen during his time in the NFL. I know the Ravens receivers are a big talking point this offseason. So as Joe goes, the receivers can benefit, as well."
10. Why did Trestman not work out as a head coach in Chicago?
"There were a couple reasons. Obviously, it was that they didn't win enough. Not all of that was the head coach's fault. They had talent deficiencies. I think people in Chicago look immediately at the quarterback. Their offense was very, very good in 2013, and there was with not enough help from the defense. … Beyond that, they had locker room issues at the end. I think it stemmed from a media leak they had with the offensive coordinator, and the decision to bench Jay at the end of the season. That was a level of accountability that hadn't really been demonstrated earlier in his regime, and when it got to the end of the season and the season was already lost, I think some people in the locker room had trouble processing that. Why would they bench Jay so late in the year when it was already over rather than when he was playing inconsistently throughout? … But I wish it worked out here. I wish he was still around."