When the Bears began the interview process last offseason with Marc Trestman, the man who would become their head coach, quarterback Jay Cutler wanted to go more in depth on the man.
Rather than make calls or do a quick Google search, Cutler ordered a copy of the motivational biography written by Trestman three years earlier. He sat down and read through it to get a better grasp on the man.
It might have been the only copy of the book sold at that point and the Jets, the Bears’ opponent on Monday night, might wish he never picked up a copy.
In “Perseverance: Life Lessons on Leadership and Teamwork,” Cutler read about the man whose coaching style led to two Grey Cup titles in the Canadian Football League. Cutler was a bit of an enigma before last year, a talented quarterback with a big arm and an almost equally big penchant for mistakes. He is becoming one of the best quarterbacks in the league under Trestman.
“I read it before we hired him. He has had an interesting journey,” Cutler said. “He has been a lot of different places which has helped shape him as a coach and as a person. I think his self-awareness is through the roof. He knows when to push buttons, he knows when to let guys do their thing, he gives a lot of trust in the players and I think that’s why the guys like him.”
Trestman came to the NFL as an unknown with a coaching pedigree that made him a journeyman to say the least. He had nine jobs with eight different NFL teams from 1985 to 2004 as either a quarterback coach or an offensive coordinator. But he never got a sniff at a head coaching job.
He made a stop at North Carolina State for two years before going to the CFL. Success finally found Trestman in Canada and the Bears took a shot on him last year.
While Cutler turned to an autobiography on the man who would be his head coach, Trestman had personal experience with the player who would be his quarterback. He liked what he saw before Cutler was even a rookie and he knew he had someone he could work with.
“I tried to not pay attention to much of what I had heard on the positive or negative. I had a chance to work Jay out coming out of college, but once we met when I got the job it was clear that he was highly intelligent, both football-wise and non-football-wise. He had a great skillset, but what we wanted to focus on was how he carried himself and create an environment for him that he could succeed,” Trestman said. “I’ve enjoyed every minute with him. It’s been an ongoing process, but every day he invests in this football team. And I think that’s the biggest thing that I try to tell those who will listen, is that he just doesn’t invest in the team on the field, but he’s invested in his team and giving to his team and serving his team off the field, in the locker room and a lot of different ways that people don’t see.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.