from the Detroit Free Press. 28 September 2013 .. a great writer Dave Birkett.
Marc Trestman isn’t the first successful import from the Canadian Football League, and judging by his fast start as Chicago Bears head coach — and knowing the copycat ways of the NFL — he won’t be the last.
Trestman has the Bears undefeated and alone in first place in the NFC North heading into today’s showdown with the Lions (2-1) at Ford Field. He has transformed an underachieving offense into one of the most balanced units in the league, earned support in a locker room beholden to his predecessor Lovie Smith, and elevated the play of surly quarterback Jay Cutler in his contract year. Trestman still has a long way to go to match the success of some of his CFL-to-NFL predecessors. Bud Grant won four Grey Cups with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the 1950s and ’60s before leading the Minnesota Vikings to four Super Bowls. And Marv Levy was a two-time CFL champion with the Montreal Alouettes in the 1970s before winning four AFC titles a few stops later with the Buffalo Bills.
Trestman bounced around college football and the NFL, including a stint as Lions quarterbacks coach in 1997, before finding success with Levy’s old team in Montreal. He won two Grey Cups in five seasons with the Alouettes, and now his old general manager in Montreal, former Michigan State player Jim Popp, is considered by many across the league the next most ready candidate for the NFL. “There’s no doubt about it (he can do it),? Trestman said in a conference call with Detroit reporters last week. “His (Popps) ability to evaluate personnel and to find players is incredibly unique. He will work day and night to try to find that one guy somewhere who can make a difference in your football team. And he really won’t stop till he finds it.?
Popp is well known in football circles, even if his name doesn’t spill off the tongue of the average fan. His father, Joe Popp, spent two years on Bud Carson’s staff with the Cleveland Browns and was a longtime college assistant. He was one of George Perles’ first recruits at Michigan State, where he played defensive back under Nick Saban before suffering three torn ligaments in his knee. His former college roommate and good friend, Dean Altobelli, is on Saban’s staff at Alabama now. And over the past two years he has interviewed for four NFL general manager positions and been a finalist for two jobs.
In 2012, he lost out to Ryan Grigson in Indianapolis — Grigson’s first scouting job, incidentally, was a one-year stint with the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders in 1998 — and earlier this year, he finished second to Dave Gettleman for the GM job in Carolina. [color=#FF0000]A headhunter also approached Popp about the New York Jets’ GM job last off-season, and he met privately about the front-office opening in Jacksonville with Jaguars owner Shahid Khan.
[b]Dan Rambo, a former CFL general manager who spent eight years as a scout with the Denver Broncos and now co-owns the football scouting software company FBXchange.com, said Popp’s diverse background and history of winning should be enough to make up for the one knock on his NFL resume: No NFL experience. “Maybe the NFL needs to take a look outside their own comfort zone,? Rambo said. “They’ve taken a lot of things from the CFL, they might as well take the best GM in the league.?
Popp said he hopes Trestman’s success has a more far-reaching impact and leads to opportunities for some of the league’s other bright young coaches and players.[/b] Toronto Argonauts coach Scott Milanovich, Trestman’s former offensive coordinator in Montreal, is another highly regarded coach, and Popp said his own receiver Duron Carter, Hall of Famer Cris Carter’s son, is “fast becoming a star and he’s probably going to make a lot of money one day.? color=#FF0000]“Marc jumping, being in the NFL, coming to the CFL and then going right back as a head coach, I think what it’ll do is open the eyes,? Popp said. “I think the mind is open in the NFL anyway.?
Trestman, who still talks frequently with Popp, agrees. He said differences between the two leagues are overstated and that there’s no reason players, coaches and personnel evaluators who have success in Canada can’t do the same down here. “It’s the same football,? Trestman said. “At the line of scrimmage it’s played the same, we coach the guys the same, the players up there were the same guys that we coached down here. They love football, they want to be coached, the game’s important to them and they want to master their craft. I found out really that football’s the same everywhere. The game’s different. The rules are different, but in terms of how you coach guys and how you do things on a daily basis, it’s very similar.?