There is good reason why compact fluorescent light bulbs last longer than some NFL head coaches.
NFL owners keep replacing them knowing that new coaches like Marc Trestman can light up a room in a hurry.
In the 10 years before this offseason, NFL teams have hired permanent head coaches 65 times according to a Tribune study. In their first full seasons, those coaches have led their teams to a better record 65 percent of the time. On average, new coaches have won 11/2 games more than their predecessors had the previous year.
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Olivet Nazarene University, 1 University Avenue, Bourbonnais, IL 60914, USA
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So it's not unusual for a new NFL coach to make an immediate impact.
However, the climb has been steeper when the previous coach was fired after a winning season, as Lovie Smith was with the Bears.
Of the eight coaches in the last decade who have taken over teams that finished better than .500 the previous year, only one led his team to a better record, Wade Phillips in 2007 with the Cowboys.
Why was Phillips an outlier?
"We had a good team going in," said Phillips, who guided the Cowboys to a 13-3 record after Bill Parcells stepped down after a 9-7 season. "We had a lot of things going for us. They had been playing a 3-4, which is part of the reason I got hired. The Parcells 3-4 is a little different than ours, but we had some personnel there."
Phillips, now the Texans defensive coordinator, pointed out taking over a winning team is different because there are higher expectations and thus more pressure to win quickly. That changes the dynamic and the coach's approach.
In many ways, a coach like Trestman taking over a 10-win team has a very different challenge from a coach who's cleaning up a train wreck. There's a lot more room for improvement in 6-10 than there is in 10-6.
A coach in Trestman's position generally wants to promote continuity while affecting change. These are conflicting goals, so a leader in that situation probably will have to compromise one or the other.
Those who couldn't improve their team's bottom lines after taking over winners were Brad Childress, Herm Edwards, Dennis Erickson, Raheem Morris, Rex Ryan, Norv Turner and Jim Zorn.
Of those, Erickson's situation might be the most similar to Trestman's. Like Trestman, he was out of the NFL when the 49ers came calling in 2003. He had been coaching at Oregon State.
The season before Erickson came to the 49ers, Steve Mariucci had led the team to 10 victories and an NFC West title. But there was bad blood between Mariucci and the front office, so he was fired.
Like Trestman with the Bears, Erickson didn't mess with the team's defensive style — in his case, he retained coordinator Jim Mora. But he made changes offensively, veering away from the 49ers' West Coast roots and depending more on a vertical game and one-back offense.
Erickson was one of a dozen NFL hires in the last 10 years who wasn't working in the league the previous year. Of those 12, eight improved their team's record from the season before.
So the theory that Trestman will struggle because he's "out of touch" with the NFL may not hold water.
Trestman was interested in retaining defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, but Marinelli wasn't interested in staying. Trestman subsequently hired Mel Tucker, who will run basically the same defense Marinelli did. He also retained a pair of assistants from Smith's staff.
Other than that, change is in the air in Bourbonnais.
The offense is a start-from-scratch proposition. Special teams are going to be quite different too.
Trestman has changed the way the Bears practice, the time they practice, how they train in the weight room, how lockers are arranged and more. Trestman has to get his players to buy into new ways of doing things even though they have reason to believe the old ways worked.
So he searches for balance between what has worked with this team and what he believes can make it better.
History says it's uncommon for a new coach to improve a team that won the previous year. But when Trestman takes the field at Olivet Nazarene on Friday for the first practice of camp, he will be focused on the future, not the past.