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1. Marc Trestman/Chicago

Predecessor: Lovie Smith

Others interviewed: Bears general manager Phil Emery spoke with 13 candidates before tabbing Trestman, Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and ex-Indianapolis offensive coordinator Bruce Arians as his finalists.

Why Trestman?: As evidenced by seven of the eight head-coaching hires to fill vacancies, offense-oriented candidates had favored status. Trestman also had appeal as someone who could bring out-of-the-box ideas into the NFL like Harbaugh has done with San Francisco’s use of Pistol formations. He spent the past five seasons as the Montreal Alouettes head coach in the Canadian Football League as well as 2005 and 2006 as North Carolina State’s offensive coordinator.

Biggest philosophical change: Trestman’s specialty is working with quarterbacks, from having coached and played the position personally (University of Minnesota/Minnesota State). This should be great news for Jay Cutler, whose units under three coordinators the past four seasons (Ron Turner, Mike Martz and Mike Tice) never finished ranked above 23rd in average yards per game. New coordinator Aaron Kromer will specialize in the running game and bring some of the concepts he learned as offensive line coach of the New Orleans Saints.

Most pressing task: Earning the trust and respect of veteran players with strong loyalty to Smith, who was fired after nine seasons despite having a 10-6 record in 2012. Trestman’s brainy approach and white-collar background stands in contrast to Smith’s low-key delivery and East Texas roots. Trestman should get a boost from the hiring of ex-Jacksonville defensive coordinator Mel Tucker for the same position in Chicago. Tucker reportedly plans to keep the same Tampa-2 style of defense the unit played under Smith, which would ease the transition.

Overall: Of the eight vacancies, Trestman couldn’t have landed in a more appealing situation. The Bears have a franchise quarterback, elite wide receiver (Brandon Marshall), a two-headed running back combination (Matt Forte and Michael Bush), some of the league’s best defensive talent and a history of outstanding special teams. With a few offseason offensive upgrades, particularly on the offensive line and at tight end, the Bears are poised to become a bona fide Super Bowl contender. It’s incumbent upon Trestman to quickly get Chicago into the playoffs – something Smith couldn’t accomplish in five of the past six seasons with much of the same core talent.

(AP Photo)

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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