The list of potential names that will take on a head coaching job that will likely be far more difficult and demanding than your average difficult and demanding NFL coaching position is long, but one reported name that surfaced yesterday is intriguing.
That name is Marc Trestman, a man who knows quarterbacks, especially young ones. Peyton Manning is not a young quarterback, so if new Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson is embracing his role as the man who will detonate the Colts’ foundation, he could also embrace Trestman as the builder contracted to develop a new, stable young core.
Last night ESPN reported that Trestman is one of the candidates who has interviewed for the head coaching position in Indianapolis vacated after Jim Caldwell’s firing started a house cleaning that’s left egg shells littering the floors of the Colts’ facilities. When an interview list has nine reported or confirmed names scribbled on it, reading too deeply into one formal sit down is unwise.
So we won’t do that. We’ll just wildly speculate instead, because that’s far more entertaining.
The mere move to interview Trestman shows some creative thinking by Grigson, who’s quickly reverting to what’s familiar and trusted during a trying time for a franchise that’s known only success, and little struggle for the past decade or so.
Grigson has been in an NFL front office in some capacity since 1999. He started with the Rams and climbed the ladder until he was a high-ranking suit in Philadelphia last year, and Jim Irsay was willing to take a risk on a relatively unknown young mind after firing Bill and Chris Polian, the latter of which is very old and known.
But Grigson’s roots are in the CFL, where his post-playing career started when he served as a scout for the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 1998. Canadian football is his distant past, but it’s Trestman’s present, as the Alouettes head coach has led his team to two Grey Cups over the last three years, and in 2009 and 2010 his quarterback Anthony Calvillo was the league’s MVP.
The Canadian championships and the Alouettes’ dominance and offensive flare under Trestman is impressive, but what’s likely most appealing to Grigson about Trestman is his work with Calvillo, and especially his experience as a quarterbacks coach throughout his coaching career. A history of molding young quarterbacks is ideal for a franchise that’s about to call the name of the most hyped young arm in recent history on draft day.
Prior to taking the Montreal job, Trestman served as a quarterbacks coach during eight of his career stops, taking on the duel responsibility of being the offensive coordinator with the 49ers (1995-96) and Cardinals (1998-2000).
Those travels through the jungle of young, immature quarterbacks have given Trestman challenges that included Jake Plummer, who threw more picks than TDs during his first full season as the Cardinals’ starter in 1998 and Trestman’s first as his coach. But those typical and expected rookie gaffes were balanced by Plummer’s 3,737 passing yards, which was the second-highest total of his career. Combined with a six-point jump in his completion percentage, Plummer’s quick improvement landed Arizona in the 1998 playoffs, which was just the seventh playoff appearance in team history.
Trestman was also the Buccaneers quarterbacks coach back in 1987, and was responsible for the development of 1986 first overall pick Vinny Testaverde. He often coaches quarterback draft prospects in the offseason, and that led to the daunting challenge two offseasons ago when he decided to make Tim Tebow into an NFL quarterback. The debate over Tebow’s success in that endeavor has been the subject of at least 93 GLS posts, but Trestman’s success was finalized when Tebow showed enough improvement to be the surprise of the 2010 draft when he was selected in the first round.
Andrew Luck won’t require nearly as much work, but Grigson knows that the first year is a fragile time for even the most elite QB prospect, and in Trestman he’d have a mind that’s already charted several quarterback growth plans, while also guiding other veterans like Calvillo and Rich Gannon to success.