Ravens beat writer Jeff Zrebiec talks about the Ravens' new offensive coordinator Marc Trestman and the possible reason the team chose him. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)
The Ravens moved quickly to fill their offensive coordinator vacancy, replacing Gary Kubiak with Marc Trestman, another former NFL head coach with a reputation for getting the most out of quarterbacks.
Trestman, who will become the Ravens' fourth offensive coordinator in as many seasons, was hired on the same day Kubiak was introduced as the Denver Broncos' head coach. After speaking to potential candidates over the past couple of days, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh made the decision to hire Trestman Tuesday afternoon from Arizona, where his staff is coaching one of the Pro Bowl teams. Trestman got a three-year deal, according to a source.
Trestman, 59, went 13-19 in two seasons head coach of the Chicago Bears before he was fired this month. However, his resume is dotted with offensive success at a variety of levels and his ability to improve quarterbacks once earned him the nickname "the quarterback whisperer."
"I spent a little time with Marc last year and I was really impressed," Tennessee Titans head coach and former Ravens assistant Ken Whisenhunt told The Baltimore Sun at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. "I thought he was a really humble guy that had a great knowledge of football. I'm happy for him.
"I know he's a good football coach. I've been around a number of players and coaches that have been with him and the only thing that's been consistent is their high praise of him. I'm impressed with how he carried himself. He's been in a lot of different offenses, a lot of different schemes and he's done well. So, he'll do a good job."
Harbaugh, who will address the Trestman hire Wednesday, still needs to find a quarterbacks coach, tight ends coach and secondary coach, but getting a coordinator and play caller in place was the first step in an effort to continue the positive momentum that the Joe Flacco-led offense created this past season.
At this time last year, Harbaugh hired Kubiak, who replaced Jim Caldwell, after an exhaustive search that took nearly two weeks and included as many as 20 interviews.
This year's process is probably better measured by hours than days, although Harbaugh started formulating a contingency plan last Thursday when the Broncos requested permission to interview Kubiak. When Kubiak expressed an interest in talking to his long-time friend, Broncos general manager John Elway, about the job — he had turned down other head-coaching interview requests earlier in the week — the Ravens realized that it was little more than a formality that they'd lose Kubiak.
All along, Trestman and Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase, who interviewed in Baltimore on Monday night, were considered the highest-profile candidates to replace Kubiak. Trestman had already interviewed for offensive coordinator openings, including ones with the Oakland Raiders, Cleveland Browns and Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Ravens were intrigued by the 35-year-old Gase, who has gotten heavy consideration for head coaching jobs the past two offseasons after teaming with Peyton Manning to direct the highest-scoring offense in the NFL.
However, they ultimately chose the more experienced candidate in Trestman, who before being given a shot to lead the Bears, had been a successful head coach with the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League, and had stints as an offensive coordinator for four NFL teams (Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals and Oakland Raiders), and one college team (North Carolina State).
Trestman's first offensive coordinator job was with the Browns in 1988 and 1989, when he coached a veteran tight end named Ozzie Newsome, currently the Ravens' general manager. Other than that, Trestman had no significant ties to the Ravens, although he did make a significant impact on Harbaugh's brother, Jim, when they were on the Raiders' staff together.
Jim Harbaugh once told ESPN Radio in Chicago that Trestman "taught me everything."
"Everything wouldn't be an overstatement," Harbaugh said. "We use his system still of calling plays and the way he taught us those concepts and techniques. I've used (those) since I coached with the Raiders, the University of San Diego, Stanford and the 49ers."
Under Kubiak this past season, the Ravens offense reached new heights, setting franchise records in total points and yards. Flacco had arguably the best season of his career, flourishing in Kubiak's West Coast offense that was heavy on bootlegs and play-action, and emphasized quick decision making and high-percentage throws. The Ravens' run game also was revitalized behind a zone-blocking approach.
Trestman replaced Mike Shanahan, one of Kubiak's mentors, as the San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator in 1995, and he, too, is rooted in West Coast offensive principles. While his offenses feature the quarterback frequently operating out of the shotgun, which Kubiak barely used, there are similarities in their quarterback coaching philosophies in that they focus on proper footwork and getting the ball out quickly.
Trestman, however, has not fully employed the zone blocking system, and it's unclear if he'll embrace it, or the Ravens will scrap it in deference to Trestman.
"Trestman has a brilliant offensive mind," said Russ Lande, a former Browns and St. Louis Rams scout who is now the director of college scouting for the Alouettes, the team Trestman led to two Grey Cup titles. "He'll have Joe Flacco playing the best football of his career. The only real concern with Marc is, 'Will he run the football enough?' He loves the passing game, that's his thing."
The Bears, quarterbacked by the mercurial Jay Cutler, finished 15th in passing offense and 27th in rushing offense this past season, throwing the football 609 times and running it 355 times. Under Kubiak, the Ravens ran the ball 448 times and Flacco had 554 passing attempts.
In 10 seasons as an NFL play caller, Trestman's offenses have finished in the top 10 in rushing yards per game just once, and in the top 10 in passing yards per game five times. However, it's hard to argue with the production. Trestman has boasted of a top-5 scoring offense in five seasons.
While the Bears struggled mightily this past season, with Cutler getting benched at one point, they had the NFL's second-highest scoring offense in Trestman's first season, when journeyman backup Josh McCown starting five games.
Former Ravens head coach Brian Billick, now an analyst for NFL Network, predicted Monday that if hired, Trestman's cerebral and calm personality would help him forge a strong relationship with Flacco, who also has a low-key demeanor.
Long before he struggled to get Cutler to play at a consistent level, Trestman was hailed for his work with such quarterbacks as Bernie Kosar, Steve Young, Jake Plummer and Scott Mitchell.
Playing experience: Was a backup quarterback at the University of Minnesota before transferring to Minnesota State University Moorhead. Was in Minnesota Vikings training camp for two years.
College coaching experience: Full-time assistant at University of Miami (1983-84), offensive coordinator at North Carolina State (2005-06).
NFL coaching experience: Running backs/quarterbacks coach with Vikings (1985-86, 90-91), quarterbacks coach with Buccaneers (1987), offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach with Browns (1988-89), offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach with 49ers (1995-96), quarterbacks coach of Lions (1997), offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach with Cardinals (1998-2000); offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach of Raiders (2001-03); assistant head coach with Dolphins (2004); head coach of Bears (2013-14)
CFL coaching experience: Head coach of Montreal Alouettes (2008-12).
Honors: 2009 CFL Coach of the Year, Two-time Grey Cup champion; Was an assistant for the Raiders in 2002 when they made it to the Super Bowl.
Personal: Trestman and his wife, Cindy, have two daughters.
New Ravens offensive coordinator Marc Trestman has been the offensive coordinator for four NFL teams, in addition to calling plays during his two seasons as head coach of the Chicago Bears. Here's how his offenses have fared in those leadership capacities during his NFL coaching career.
Team Year; Pass Yards (rank) Rush Yards (rank) Total Points (rank)