Chicago Bears: Marc Trestman

Five things we learned: Lions 20, Bears 14

December, 21, 2014
Dec 21
CHICAGO -- Here are five things we learned in the Chicago Bears' 20-14 loss to the Detroit Lions:

1. Marc Trestman needs to be fired, immediately: Trestman needs to be stripped of his control over the 46-man active game-day roster for the decision to keep Jay Cutler active on Sunday. Under no circumstances can the Bears expose Cutler to unnecessary injury in the final two weeks, even if the eventual offseason plan calls for the organization to keep Cutler in 2015. Cutler’s season is finished. It’s over. He has completely checked out. He’s done with Trestman and offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer. Accept it, and move on. Let’s say the Bears ultimately decide Cutler gives them the best shot to win next year. The last thing the organization wants is for Cutler to be pressed into relief duty versus Detroit or Minnesota, likely unprepared, and suffer an injury that affects his availability for the (presumably) new head coach's offseason program or, even worse, triggers the injury-protection clause in Cutler’s contract. Most potential head-coaching candidates (save Mike Shanahan) will be leery of working with Cutler, even if he’s healthy. A beat-up Cutler only makes the sales job that much harder for the Bears organization in coming months. Now, let’s say the Bears plan to shop Cutler around to other teams. The very idea of Cutler serving as the No. 2 in two meaningless games, in that scenario, is pure madness. Let me repeat: pure madness. I understand Trestman wants to win another game. His credibility and reputation are under attack. But the future of the franchise is far more important. Whether Bears fans want to admit it or not, Cutler is an extremely important piece of the puzzle moving forward, trade or no trade. Subjecting him to further risk is foolish. Let Joe DeCamillis coach the season finale in Minnesota. Trestman is worried about his own interests, not the organization's. When that happens, it’s time for change, even if one is already scheduled to occur Dec. 29.

2. Jimmy Clausen is a legitimate No. 2: Clausen belongs in the NFL next year in a reserve role. Congratulations. Clausen played OK: 23-of-39 for 181 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Some wondered if Clausen even deserved to be in the league. He does. Clausen clearly took his role seriously and put in the necessary work to learn the offense, without the benefit of practice snaps, over the past five or six months. Clausen might struggle next week versus a scrappy Minnesota Vikings team, but decent No. 2 quarterbacks are difficult to find. Clausen is decent. He should have no trouble finding work in the offseason, either in Chicago or someplace else.

3. Keep Jeremiah Ratliff: Whatever defense the Bears run in 2015 needs to include Ratliff, who is under contract through next year. Ratliff is a leader. He also happens to be the best player on defense. Ratliff is intimidating. The veteran defensive tackle does an excellent job holding teammates accountable. The only issue is durability. The Bears need Ratliff to stay healthy for all 16 games next season, because if he does, Ratliff remains capable of playing at a Pro Bowl level. He might be the most underrated player on the team.

4. Suspend Dominic Raiola: Raiola is a cheap-shot artist. Stomping on the back foot of a prone and unsuspecting Ego Ferguson was a pure amateur-hour move. Raiola has the reputation of a dirty player. He is not a first-time offender but tends to fly under the radar due to the highly publicized behavior of teammate Ndamukong Suh. Two games would be an appropriate punishment for Raiola. Force him to miss the first round of the playoffs. Ferguson said it best: “We all saw the play. You can’t take back what happened with that play. I don’t have to explain that.” The NFL should act swiftly. A 14-year veteran ought to know better.

5. When did Detroit rehire Jim Schwartz? The Lions got lucky Sunday. Detroit self-destructed on several instances and played undisciplined football. Lions fans were accustomed to that style of play under ex-head coach Jim Schwartz, but not Jim Caldwell. Detroit better clean it up. Otherwise their postseason run will be a brief one.
CHICAGO -- The body-language police likely focused a critical eye on Jay Cutler during Chicago’s 20-14 loss Sunday to the Detroit Lions, but behind the scenes, the benched quarterback spent extra time at Halas Hall preparing Jimmy Clausen for his first start since his rookie season with the Carolina Panthers in 2010.

“He was involved during the week in the meetings, actively and vocally involved,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said of Cutler. “Today, he did what you would expect him to do. He was with Jimmy and [quarterbacks coach] Matt [Cavanaugh] between series and was part of the dialogue.”

Clausen threw two touchdown passes and an interception, with a passer rating of 77.0. But with just two days of prep time, Clausen said Cutler and rookie David Fales stayed with him until nearly 9 p.m. those nights at the team’s facilities.

When Clausen signed with the team in June, Cutler immediately took the backup quarterback under his wing.

“We only had two days to prepare for this game, so we stayed pretty much until 8:30 p.m. every single night, trying to watch as much tape as possible, get all the calls down,” Clausen said. “Get everything down to make sure we were prepared for this game. But Jay was great. David Fales was great in helping me to go through all the calls, watching the film. Staying real late, they helped me out a lot.”
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman detailed Thursday what sounded like a meticulous approach in making the decision to bench quarterback Jay Cutler, but most of the players found out about the move through social media instead of from the man in charge.

“We’d like for everything to come from in-house first, but at the end of the day, it didn’t work out like that,” said left tackle Jermon Bushrod, who added the team held a meeting Thursday “to cover up what got out yesterday.”

Trestman described a process in which he met with Cutler and backup Jimmy Clausen “to tell them my intentions and walk them through the process of how this was gonna be handled,” before sitting down later in the day with general manager Phil Emery to “talk to him about my decision, and finalize it on our staff meeting” Wednesday night. Before Trestman informed the team, however, ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter posted a tweet breaking news of the coach’s decision to bench Cutler in favor of Clausen.

Trestman was asked Thursday whether he was concerned about news of the decision to bench Cutler leaking through social media before he actually informed the team.

“The normal course of events is I wanted to make sure the quarterbacks knew my intent. The biggest part of this, I wanted the team to know, hear from me first,” Trestman said. “And we all know that in this day and age it's very difficult to keep some of those things [quiet]. I mean, it was assumed that eventually it could get out during the course of the day, but my thoughts were to respect my team. I wanted them to hear it from me first. I wanted them to know I spoke with the quarterbacks. They knew about it. And ultimately I wanted them to know they knew about it before it got out, which was critically important.”

Obviously, that’s not what took place.

“I found out on Twitter; not ideal,” left guard Kyle Long said.

Cornerback Charles Tillman on “Mike & Mike” on ESPN radio said he found out about the news on Twitter, too.

“Didn’t really matter to me,” said tight end Martellus Bennett when asked if he would rather have heard about Cutler’s benching from Trestman. “Half the s--- I read, I don’t believe anyway. So it doesn’t matter to me.”

Bears tight ends coach Andy Bischoff sent a text message to Bennett informing him of the news.

“It was surprising at first to hear the news, obviously,” Long said. “But we have the utmost confidence in the people upstairs. You get torn between a decision involving one of your good friends and your quarterback. But you have to put emotions and opinions to the side when you’re doing something like this because the bottom line is, I know [Detroit defensive tackle Ndamukong] Suh's still going to be lined up in the three-technique on Sunday, and that won’t change. Not much changes in terms of what we have to do.”
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- One major component swaying the Chicago Bears' decision to hire Marc Trestman was his ability to coax the best from quarterbacks, but the coach admitted Wednesday he hasn’t been able to accomplish that endeavor with Jay Cutler.

“I think that’s evident I haven’t up to this point,” Trestman said. “Am I working at it? Yes. We’ve seen moments, but we haven’t done it on a consistent basis. I can’t hide from that.”

Cutler won’t let him.

[+] EnlargeMarc Trestman
AP Photo/David Goldman"I haven't been able [to coax the best from Jay Cutler] and we haven't been able to do the things that we want to get done," Marc Trestman said.
During a nationally televised loss Monday night to the New Orleans Saints, Cutler tossed three interceptions and produced a season-low passer rating of 55.8. Cutler also generated a total QBR of 6.8 against the Saints, which registered as his second-worst performance of the season in that category (6.0 QBR in Week 10).

The highest-paid offensive player in the NFL this season, Cutler currently leads the league in turnovers (24). On a per-play basis, Cutler has averaged a turnover every 33.3 snaps this season, which ranks as third-worst among all qualified players in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information. What’s more is Cutler’s turnover rate is nearly twice as high as the average qualified NFL quarterback this season (the average is a turnover every 65.3 snaps).

“I haven’t been able [to coax the best from Cutler] and we haven’t been able to do the things that we want to get done,” Trestman said. “We’re working towards that. But the answer to that is obvious. I’m trying to give you the most truthful answer and that is, we’ve seen moments of it, but it’s not where we need to go. It’s not where we need to be. But it’s not all about Jay. It’s about our entire offense, working together to get it done.”

ESPN’s Jon Gruden hired Trestman back in 2001 to serve as a senior assistant with the Oakland Raiders, and during the broadcast said the Bears coach should consider benching Cutler and taking a look at backup Jimmy Clausen. Trestman indicated Wednesday he’s not quite ready to sit Cutler.

“Jon certainly has a right to his opinion, and each and every week we go through our evaluations all the way around,” Trestman said. “As I said, Jon’s got a right to his opinion.”

For the better part of the season, Trestman has talked extensively about the team’s great weeks of preparation, and admitted after a Nov. 10 blowout loss at Green Bay, to being “confounded” by the team’s inability to transfer the groundwork laid in practice to the games.

Against the Saints, the Bears converted just 2 of 12 third downs, which led to the club’s defense being on the field for 33 minutes and 31 seconds as Drew Brees ripped Chicago for 375 yards passing and three touchdowns.

Asked whether he was still confounded by Chicago’s preparation not transferring to games, Trestman acknowledged the club still hasn’t found answers, which for the organization, should be troubling considering just two outings remain in the 2014 season. At this point, it’s unclear whether a thorough offseason examination would adequately reveal all that ails Chicago’s offense.

“We haven’t been able to answer that question. We have to be honest with that,” Trestman said. “I’m being honest with you, we haven’t seen that. We haven’t been able to unlock that, and that’s the reason we’re 5-9.”
Every now and then, rivals back one another, and that’s precisely what took place Tuesday when Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers ripped Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer for criticizing Jay Cutler as an anonymous source in an NFL Network report.

Rodgers told the NFL Network he was “baffled” by the situation, and criticized Kromer’s behavior while expressing empathy for what Cutler endured in the week leading up to Chicago’s loss to the New Orleans Saints on "Monday Night Football."

“I would have a major problem if somebody said something like that,” Rodgers said. “I think anybody that plays the position, you can’t help but empathize with Jay for that situation. You talk all the time about being connected, being a unit, believing in each other. But if you have unnamed sources, people out there cutting you down, and then you find out it’s the person calling the plays… that would be really hard to deal with, to look at him the same way.”

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Matt Marton/USA TODAY SportsBears quarterback Jay Cutler was sacked seven times against New Orleans and threw three interceptions.
Kromer admitted to the team during a meeting he’d been the anonymous source in an NFL Network report in which he criticized Cutler’s game-management skills, specifically his refusal to check out of bad run plays.

During that meeting, Kromer apologized to Cutler, who said he “wasn’t angry” with the offensive coordinator.

But the entire situation resonated profoundly throughout the organization, with Bears general manager Phil Emery chiming in Monday night during the WBBM pregame show to vent his feelings.

"I’ve had to step back this week and let the emotions of those events quell down a little bit so that I was in position to listen and work through the processes and the structure we have to arrive at a conclusion that was in the best interest of the team,” Emery said. “I was very angry, to be honest with you, with what happened. Disappointed, upset, like many of our fans and like many of our players, which was obvious because that’s how the information got out, in terms of Aaron’s apology to the team.”

Rodgers told the NFL Network he “felt for Jay that he was having to deal with that.” Cutler, meanwhile, told WBBM after Monday’s game the entire situation “didn’t affect me preparing for the game” in which he threw three interceptions, was sacked seven times and produced a season-low passer rating of 55.8.

“I was surprised that the coach came out and admitted that it was him. I think, in general, unnamed sources are pretty gutless,” Rodgers said. “But then he comes out and admits it was him. I don't think he deserves any credit for that, but it was interesting that he did."

Rodgers pointed out the differences in work environments in Green Bay and Chicago, and credited coach Mike McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson for creating an atmosphere in which communication rules and minimizes the prospects for such situations as what took place with the Bears from occurring.

"I would have a major problem with that, if [Green Bay offensive coordinator] Tom Clements was saying stuff like that about me -- which he never would, because Tom and I are so close, and I think we have good communication," Rodgers said. "I think there's a way of doing things when you have issues, and it's keeping it in-house.”

Cutler felt the same way, saying he learned early on in his career that it was better to operate that way.

“When I first got in the NFL [with the Denver Broncos], Mike Shanahan made a huge emphasis that things get kept in house. Throughout my nine years I’ve tried to abide by that policy and keep things in-house,” Cutler said. “Some years I’m better than other years. When [Bears coach Marc Trestman] got here, he was of the same method: Let’s try to keep things in house. And I think we’ve done a heck of a job throughout almost two years, haven’t had a lot of leaks, haven’t had a lot of things happen inside the building that have gotten out. Obviously we had something this time get out. It’s not a bad thing. It’s going to happen, and we’re not the first team it’s going to happen to and we won’t be the last team.”
As Chicago stumbles toward its first sub-.500 season since 2009, second-guessing the franchise’s decision to part ways with Lovie Smith after a 10-6 campaign in 2012 has become common, with former NFL coach Tony Dungy saying the organization took Smith for granted.

Dungy was asked in an interview with The Sporting News whether the firing of his longtime friend and opponent in Super Bowl XLI was fair.

“No, it wasn’t,” said Dungy, who now serves as an NFL analyst on NBC. “But it’s human nature. It’s not necessarily doing what’s best for the organization, it’s hearing a lot from the outside and hearing about disappointment and expectations not being met, and being convinced that a change has to be made.”

The Bears fired Smith on Dec. 31, 2012, a day after the club closed the season with a 26-24 triumph at Detroit to improve to 10-6. Chicago missed the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons, and the organization believed it was time to head a different direction. So ownership brought aboard Marc Trestman.

Since making the change, the team -- which openly discussed the desire to close in on the Green Bay Packers -- has deteriorated under Trestman’s watch, finishing 8-8 in 2013, and well on the way now to a record worse than that in 2014.

Smith produced at least 10 victories in two of his final three seasons. Having worked for Indianapolis and Tampa Bay as a head coach, Dungy understood the win-now mindset that led to Smith’s ouster.

“Sometimes you can get spoiled by success,” Dungy said. “Nine-, 10-, 11-win seasons, but you didn’t get to the Super Bowl, so that’s unacceptable. You have to strive for more.”

Dungy declined to criticize Trestman, but mentioned Chicago’s front office hasn’t provided the coach enough talent to field a consistently competitive team.

"From the talent part, they’re really a ways away," Dungy said. "You take away some of the guys that Lovie had, [Charles] Tillman, [Julius] Peppers, Brian Urlacher, and you’re gonna be a ways away."

Stock Watch: Marc Trestman on way out?

December, 16, 2014
Dec 16
Marc TrestmanDavid Banks/Getty ImagesIt's near impossible to give a reason why Marc Trestman should return to coach the Bears next year.
Up arrow
1. Marc Mariani: Experience matters on special teams. Mariani is a credible return man. He ran back five kickoff returns for 142 yards (28.4 average), with a long return of 40 yards, in the 31-15 loss to New Orleans. While not the flashiest player, Mariani is a professional. He understands his role and doesn’t make mental mistakes. Mariani should be in the mix next year for a permanent spot on special teams. The Bears were lucky to find him.

2. Pat O'Donnell: O’Donnell crushed the ball versus the Saints, hitting six punts for 299 yards (49.8 average/46.3 net average). The sixth-round pick is in a groove. O’Donnell has been a model of consistency for the better part of two months. His overall net average is a tad low (38.1), but the rookie is another of the few bright spots in an otherwise dreary year.

3. Martellus Bennett: Nice to hear Bennett speak the truth after Monday’s defeat. "There are some positions on the team that need to step up with leadership and things like that around the club," Bennett said. "But overall, I just feel like we need passion to come from certain places. I don’t think the passion is always there all the time. But overall, it just hasn’t been there. I don’t really get into the name thing. They know who they are." That’s the most honest assessment of the Bears’ current plight.

Down arrow
1. Jay Cutler: A miserable all-around effort by Cutler. The quarterback continues to lead the NFL in turnovers after throwing three interceptions against New Orleans (18 interceptions and six lost fumbles). Cutler excels in garbage time. That’s it. The Bears must draft a quarterback in the first or second round.

2. Marc Trestman: The offense looks ill-prepared and disinterested. Monday night marked the sixth blowout defeat for the Bears in 2014. It’s virtually impossible to point to a reason why Trestman should return to coach the Bears for a third season. If you can find a reason, please tell me.

3. Danny McCray: McCray needs to know better. A veteran special teamer can’t call for a fake punt to be snapped when he sees the team is a man short on the field. McCray is the personal protector. His responsibility is to make sure the Bears have 11 men on the field. The missing player is also at fault, but McCray is experienced. It just cannot happen. Take the delay of game penalty and live to fight another day.
CHICAGO -- A black Vanderbilt cap pulled low over his brow, Jay Cutler plopped down at the podium, took three questions and bailed before the entire media corps had even descended from the locker room to where the Chicago Bears hold press conferences.

Too bad Cutler wasn't as successful escaping the New Orleans Saints in Monday night's 31-15 shellacking in which he tossed three interceptions, suffered seven sacks and finished with a season-low passer rating of 55.8. While unusual circumstances conspired to prevent reporters from attending Cutler's press conference, they didn't need to be there to know that for a man receiving $22.5 million in 2014 as part of a seven-year contract worth $126.7 million, the production isn't matching up to the salary.

"Just trying to get better for these next two games," Cutler said. "Just going out and trying to get a good performance offensively."

Cutler failed in that endeavor against New Orleans' 31st-ranked defense, a group that forced the quarterback to extend his NFL lead for turnovers (24) as he tossed two of his three interceptions during a first half in which he generated a passer rating of 14.9.

[+] EnlargeCutler
Matt Marton/USA TODAY SportsThe Saints sacked Bears quarterback Jay Cutler seven times on Monday night.
Both Cutler and Bears coach Marc Trestman downplayed the possibility that the quarterback's performance was negatively impacted by the drama permeating the team during the week of preparation. Offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer, during a team meeting last Monday, reportedly tearfully apologized to Cutler and the offense for criticizing the quarterback to an NFL Network reporter after a Dec. 4 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Kromer revealed he was the anonymous source in the NFL Network report, which stated the organization was feeling buyer's remorse regarding its high-priced quarterback. While Kromer admitted to criticizing Cutler, he denied any other involvement in the report.

"No, I don't think so," Cutler said when asked if the distractions at Halas Hall during the week had a negative impact. "Just have to look at the film. I have to play better. We'll take a look tomorrow and see exactly what slowed us down."

Trestman said the activity at Halas Hall had no impact on the team during the week. "Excellent work during the week, energy, meetings were good," he said. "Absolutely none."

So what happened, then?

The Bears brought aboard Trestman in January 2013 because of his ability to coax the best from quarterbacks. He'd gained a reputation for helping signal-callers such as Steve Young and Rich Gannon improve. In nearly two complete seasons under Trestman, Cutler owns a 10-15 record.

What's worse is that the promise Cutler flashed during his first year working with Trestman sparked general manager Phil Emery to lock up the quarterback with a long-term deal that more and more is appearing to look like an albatross. On top of his NFL-high salary this year, Cutler is scheduled to receive $15.5 million fully guaranteed in 2015.

Such monstrous figures limit Chicago's ability to add more quality players, which wouldn't be as significant an issue if the quarterback were performing at the level of his salary.

As of Dec. 10, five teams around the NFL had at least 14 percent of their salary caps allocated to the quarterback position, with the Pittsburgh Steelers leading the way at 16 percent, followed by the New York Giants (15.9), St. Louis Rams (15.1), Chicago (14.4) and New Orleans (14.4). Obviously, three of those teams have quarterbacks with Super Bowl rings. Even Denver and Green Bay -- teams with Super Bowl-winning signal-callers -- have smaller percentages of their overall caps allocated to the quarterback position than Chicago.

Like Cutler and Trestman, players in the locker room Monday night downplayed the impact of Kromer's confession and apology -- for an act that constitutes a breach of trust -- on the offense's performance against the Saints. The Bears were just 2-of-12 on third-down attempts and lost the total yardage battle 443-278.

"Not at all," right tackle Jordan Mills said when asked about the Kromer situation impacting the offense. "People make mistakes. We're not perfect. That had nothing to do with our focus this week. [Kromer] apologized for it, and we moved on from it. He was sincere about it. But Coach Kromer cares about all of us and he knows we're not perfect, that he's not perfect. None of that affected us. We just need to be more consistent."

Tight end Martellus Bennett likened the offense's struggles to walking through a dark room, arms outstretched, fingers trailing the walls in search of a light switch.

"You can put anything on paper, but when you show up, the game is played on grass," Bennett said. "I think there are some positions on the team that need to step up the leadership and things like that. Overall, I just feel like we need passion to come from certain places, and I don't think the passion is always there. Overall, it just hasn't been there."

So, who's missing the passion?

"Several people," Bennett said. "But I don't really get into the name thing. They know who they are."
CHICAGO -- Former NFL receiver Tim Brown said he was shocked back in January 2013 when the Chicago Bears first hired Marc Trestman.

So watching Trestman's struggles thus far through the 2014 season hasn't been a surprise for the nine-time Pro Bowl receiver, who once said, "I just never saw Trestman as being a head coach."

"It's just another coordinator who failed at a head coaching job," Brown said Saturday during the "Jeff Dickerson and Ari Temkin Show" on ESPN radio. "It doesn't mean he won't be a great coordinator for years to come because I believe he will. But sometimes you have to stay in your lane and play the game the way it's supposed to be played. It's like me going into the league and deciding I want to be a running back. Yeah, I probably could have done it. But I don't know how long or how good I would've been at it."

Brown had posted nine consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons with the Oakland Raiders entering 2002, the year Trestman took over as the team's offensive coordinator. That season, Jerry Rice emerged as the team's leading receiver and Brown finished with 930 yards.

With the Bears mired in a 5-8 record set to host the New Orleans Saints in the rain at Soldier Field, Brown said the only surprising aspect of Chicago's 2014 campaign is the fact it has underachieved with so many talented players on offense.

"You look at the offensive guys here, the Marshalls, the Jefferys, and Forte and even Bennett has been a guy who has played great football for them, and Jay Cutler being a pretty good quarterback in his own right, I think from that standpoint it's surprising that they are where they are. Trestman was a great offensive coordinator. That doesn't necessarily mean you're going to be a great head coach. You look at what's happened with Dennis Allen with the Raiders. He's a great defensive coordinator. But all of the sudden, when you have to manage a whole team, it becomes a different thing, a tougher thing to have happen. So I'm not shocked from that standpoint, man."
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- If only Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler performed on the field the way he did on the podium Friday.

In the wake of a blockbuster Chicago Tribune story detailing internal rifts and organizational dysfunction on the worst NFL team money can buy, Cutler was seemingly humble, forgiving and open -- no mumbling, good eye contact -- as he talked about the odd tale of his offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer ripping his play to an NFL Network reporter last week against Dallas and then apologizing for it.

[+] EnlargeJay Cutler
AP Images/Nam Y. HuhJay Cutler has committed 21 turnovers for a floundering Bears offense.
Cutler looked the part of a franchise quarterback, even if most of us believe that performance was the one script Cutler could follow.

Kromer couldn’t have gone into this coaching gig -- a job that doesn’t involve calling the plays or coaching the quarterbacks, that’s Marc Trestman’s domain -- with expectations of a long, fulfilling relationship with Cutler. Even being optimistic, the life span of a Cutler coach ranks somewhere between fly and hamster.

But while Cutler has gotten a lot of coaches fired in his career, this was a rare self-immolation. Can a coach plead temporary insanity by reason of Cutler-itis?

As NFL Nation Bears reporter Michael C. Wright reported, his sources tell him Cutler isn’t happy with Kromer. You don’t need Deep Throat to figure that out. But he wasn’t listed on the injury report with “hurt feelings,” so I assume he’ll play his usual style of uneven, turnover-prone football Monday night against the Saints.

Imagine if every person who’s worked with Cutler had to kowtow about it? The receiving line would be like a mafia wedding in the movies. You think Chicago traffic is bad?

If I were Cutler, and man, do I wish I had his hair and his paycheck, I wouldn’t be happy about the situation either. He has enough on his plate without his coaches ripping him, anonymously or not. We can joke, but this train wreck of a season isn’t on him. He's part of the problem but not the Problem.

This season, 5-8 and going nowhere, is on general manager Phil Emery, Trestman, team president Ted Phillips and certainly on the head McCaskey, George. Yes, it’s the players who keep screwing up, but the people above them are the ones who share the bulk of the blame.

This unseemly situation epitomizes the 2014 Bears, a collaborative disaster in which the players don't listen and the coaches don't adjust, and no one is happy.

Kromer had to meet the media Friday, and it was sad to watch as he apologized before brushing off probing questions from an inquisitive media bunch. He was obviously instructed to keep a tight lid on his thoughts. It made him look weak and foolish, two words no one uses to describe Kromer, a widely respected coach who is now the talk of the NFL.

Fall guy, though, would fit him perfectly. I bet most folks in league circles can sympathize with him.

Let’s get this straight: An assistant coach talking anonymously to a reporter isn’t news. It’s not particularly smart to rip your own star player to a national reporter, especially when it’s the incendiary Cutler, who was signed to a now-ridiculous contract by the general manager. But it’s not some wild and outrageous act.

Anonymous coaches and scouts, not to mention players and agents, are how this league’s media, not to mention all of major college and professional sports’ media, get stories. You’re either naive or a media hypocrite if this offends you.

As Cutler said, the shock wasn’t that Kromer talked out of turn, it was that he apologized.

“I think we were all a little bit surprised,” he said. “I think not so much that it happened, but that he stepped in front of us and apologized; he was owning up to it. Because like I said, everyone has made mistakes and said things in the media and said things to other players in passing that we regret, but not many of us step up in front of everybody and apologize and own it the way he did. I think we left that meeting in a better place than we started.”

Without Kromer admitting to the faux pas, the only story was that someone in the Bears organization was credited for showing “buyer’s remorse” over Cutler’s deal. Even that’s not that big of a deal, considering Cutler’s 21 turnovers and the offense’s inability to score.

“There’s stuff floating around every day about a source here, a source there,” Cutler said in a cogent piece of media analysis. “You can’t get caught up in that kind of stuff. I guess to answer your question, if he wouldn’t have apologized, we’d be talking about the Saints today.”

(Read full post)

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Aaron Kromer broke locker room code and breached the trust of quarterback Jay Cutler, but in the wake of this latest demonstration of dysfunction at Halas Hall, it’s worth pondering what the Chicago Bears brass would actually accomplish now by firing the offensive coordinator. Not that it's been discussed.

While Kromer likely brought about at least a small amount of distrust within the locker room by criticizing Cutler on background to an NFL Network reporter last week, on the flip side, there are players in that locker room who believe the offensive coordinator simply said what needed to be said. According to the Chicago Tribune, Kromer, during a meeting on Monday, made a tearful apology for criticizing Cutler, which led to a report by the network Sunday that the organization is feeling “buyer’s remorse” after signing the signal-caller to a seven-year, $126.7 million contract.

[+] EnlargeAaron Kromer
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsFiring Aaron Kromer for his criticism of QB Jay Cutler wouldn't solve the problems that continue to plague the Bears.
Kromer apologized again during a news conference Friday and Cutler said he respected that and the relationship is good.

Kromer's sentiment shouldn’t come as a surprise. If you buy a Ferrari and it handles like a bobsled, wouldn’t you have buyer’s remorse, too?

“It doesn’t always fall on (Cutler),” Bears receiver Brandon Marshall said Monday during “The Brandon Marshall Show” on ESPN 1000. “I guess that's why those guys are the highest paid players out there because when you win and everything is going good, they get all the glory. When it's bad, they take more than what they should take. But I can understand that. As far as a businessman, I would have buyer's remorse, too."

That’s only natural for a team coming into the season with high hopes hinging on a quarterback the organization believed had finally turned the corner and was poised to finally live up to the promise of his immense physical gifts.

The Bears acquired Cutler from the Denver Broncos in a 2009 trade, and since the quarterback's arrival in Chicago, the team has advanced to the postseason only once (2010). In five-plus seasons with the Bears, Cutler has played in four offensive systems for four coordinators, and it seemed possible the latest revelation could result in the club bringing in No. 5.

But what would that accomplish at this point?

After all, Kromer doesn’t call plays or make important personnel decisions. That’s all on head coach Marc Trestman. Kromer is this team’s offensive coordinator in title only.

Cutler, 31, leads the league in turnovers (a league-high 15 interceptions and six fumbles), but currently owns the highest passer rating (91.7) of his nine-year NFL career.

Trestman on Monday remained committed to Cutler as the club's starting quarterback.

Perhaps he should, considering Cutler was actually involved in the interview process that brought Trestman to Chicago. Let’s also remember the Bears chose Trestman over current Arizona head coach Bruce Arians.

Was it because Cutler preferred the subdued Trestman over the demonstrative, take-charge Arians?

Regardless of what the answer to that question is, the fact is Cutler has been coddled for way too long in Chicago. Some players in the locker room know that. They also probably know that firing Kromer won’t change anything as the man who calls the plays, makes the decisions, and seems to struggle to hold Cutler accountable will still be in place.

Make no mistake, what Kromer said wasn’t wrong. It was just the manner in which he did it.

Ultimately though, while firing Kromer now might restore a little of the trust in the locker room, the truth is such a move would only do what the organization has done all along, and that’s to bend over backwards for a quarterback who isn’t providing real return on investment.
One day after being discharged from Northwestern Memorial Hospital, injured Bears receiver Brandon Marshall spent time Monday doing “The Brandon Marshall Show” on ESPN 1000.

Here are a few quick-hitting snippets from his hour-long segment:

[+] EnlargeBrandon Marshall
Scott Cunningham/Getty ImagesOn his Monday radio show, Brandon Marshall called this season "one of the most stressful years ever."
You’re out for the season. What are your plans now?

Marshall: I’ve got to really sit back, really think some things through, and really digress a little bit, do some self-assessment because I’m at a loss for what really happened this year. I’m getting older. I want to win. Just got to figure out what the heck is going on here.

Will that involve going back to Halas Hall to sit down with the coaches or general manager Phil Emery?

Marshall: I learned a long time ago they don’t listen to us. So for me, I always sit down with the coaches at the end of the year; just to go through an assessment to see where I was, how I can help the team better. So I’ll do what I normally do. I’m sure that will come up in conversation. But they don’t listen to us. For me, I want to win. I want to win here in Chicago. So I do want to hear like, what the heck are we going to do moving forward because this is unacceptable.

Are you going to do some soul searching?

Marshall: Well, I’m not going to do any soul searching. I just want to hear thoughts from other people, like what is going on? What happened? Even like for me, besides three games, 2 games I can really say I really wasn’t in it because of my ankle. But as far as production, my production is at a career low, and that’s unacceptable. I just don’t get it. I don’t understand it. I want to be able to do more for the team. So I want to figure out moving forward how can I do more? How can I help? That’s ridiculous. I’m used to catching 100 balls and really leaving a fingerprint on the game, each game, like dominating. I just didn’t feel like I was a part of that this year. So that sucks.

What have you looked at?

Marshall: You look at our offense on paper and how we’re built, we shouldn’t be in this situation. But we are. And it’s been that way for a long time. I can’t see myself going through another year like that. This is one of the most stressful years ever. So I think we have everybody we need to turn it around. But I want to hear from the other guys, like how can we do that?

What will you do from now until the end of the season?

Marshall: The reason I’m out today is if I’m at home, I’m sitting down. So this gives me an opportunity to walk around. [Doctors] told me every time I get an opportunity to walk around and just move a little bit, that’s why I’m doing it. So I’m going to do that when I need to, but pretty much throughout the day, I’m just going to sit at home and rest. I’m sure I’ll make it in [to Halas Hall] a couple times before the year is over.

What is the time frame for recovery?

Marshall: The doctors said it’s four to six weeks, maybe eight weeks. They said that about my ankle. I was supposed to be out four to six weeks and I played the next week. I’m really intrigued by the human body and what it’s capable of doing. I’m really a fan of that mind-over-matter thing. So even though I’m on the IR, I’m going to push myself this week to see if this were the Super Bowl or something this week, would I be able to make it out there on the field? I want to see how my body responds to this whole procedure and this whole deal as if I was still going out there to play. I’m going to take some notes.

Well, isn’t a collapsed lung a little different than an ankle sprain?

Marshall: Well, the lung, it recovers faster than the break. There are reports out there that Tony Romo is playing with some ribs and things like that. There are other guys who have played with it. So I guess what we’re waiting on is the lung. But the ribs are all about pain tolerance.
Cornerback Charles Tillman wants to finish out his career in Chicago, but the veteran also understands the business side of the NFL could prevent that from happening.

A 12-year veteran, Tillman landed on the injured reserve Sept. 15 after undergoing surgery to repair a torn right triceps muscle suffered during the club's Week 2 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. It marked the second consecutive season Tillman finished on injured reserve after tearing his right triceps.

[+] EnlargeCharles Tillman
AP Photo/Ric TapiaVeteran cornerback Charles Tillman has a desire to return to the football field as a player.
"I would like to continue to play," Tillman said Monday during "The Brandon Marshall Show" on ESPN 1000. "Right now, all I want to do is get healthy before I make a decision to retire or to continue to play. I have every intent of coming back and playing. Really, I just want to focus on getting healthy. That's the main thing I want to do right now."

Would Tillman be willing to sign another deal to return to Chicago, which in 2003 made him a second-round pick?

"I'm willing to play for all 32 organizations, whoever is interested," Tillman said. "That's the business side. Do I love Chicago? Yeah, but at the end of the day, if Chicago didn't want me back and that team wanted me, or this team wanted me, or that team, yeah, I've got to go. They're going to pay my bills. So, sorry."

A two-time Pro Bowler, Tillman signed a one-year deal worth $3.5 million in March to return to the Bears after visiting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during free agency. Tillman started in just eight games in 2013 before finishing on the injured reserve due to the torn triceps, but he forced six takeaways (three interceptions, three forced fumbles) prior to the injury.

Tillman finished the 2014 season with eight tackles and one pass breakup in two games.

Tillman admitted to experiencing difficulty early on in the transition from Lovie Smith to current head coach Marc Trestman, but said he was all-in with the new coaching staff.

"It was a little struggle in the beginning just because there were a bunch of different rules and things like that I wasn't accustomed to," Tillman said. "A friend of mine gave me a book. It's called, "Who Moved My Cheese?" Basically, it's just really about how to get over change. It's a good book. Change is good. So I just figured, 'What the hell?' I need to move, and just accept change. Change is good. At some point in time, we all have to change and evolve. So why not now? It means a lot to me playing for this organization. Being here all 12 years, that's huge. You don't really see that [anymore]. That's old-school. To me, that's like the old-school 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s guy. That era, they just played 10-12 years and they played for one team. You don't see that anymore."

Another transition could be in the works with speculation surfacing recently that defensive coordinator Mel Tucker could be on the way out due to the club's lackluster performance the past two years on defense. Tillman acknowledged the 2014 season has been his most frustrating in the NFL, but gave Tucker a vote of confidence.

"I think he's a good coach," Tillman said. "His ability to coach on the field and make adjustments is good in my opinion. I like what he has to bring. I like what he has to offer."

So what's missing?

"Takeaways, making plays," Tillman said. "At some point in time, too, I don't think it's all coach. We as players, we have to make plays as well. I think there's blame on both sides: blame on players, and blame on coaches. I think we all collectively have to be accountable for what we do and what we don't do."
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman chose not to address his team about its official elimination from postseason contention on Sunday, and opted instead to continue a one-day-at-a-time approach Monday when the players convened at Halas Hall.

“The only thing I addressed with the playoffs today was getting better today,” Trestman said. “Our whole focus is giving them some substance in what to do over the next couple of days to get ready to play New Orleans.”

That didn’t stop players from venting frustration about a 2014 season the team entered with high expectations after an 8-8 finish in 2013, Trestman’s first year as head coach of the Chicago Bears.

[+] EnlargeMarc Trestman
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh"It's frustrating that it hasn't worked the way that we wanted it," coach Marc Trestman said of the Bears missing the playoffs, "but that doesn't change our focus or our level of intensity to try to improve it and make it better."
Without playing a game, the Chicago Bears became officially eliminated from postseason contention on Sunday, marking the fourth consecutive season the club failed to advance to the playoffs.

The Detroit Lions made that happen with their 34-17 triumph over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Both NFC wild card teams will now have at least nine victories, and the best record the Bears can hope to achieve is 8-8 if they win the remainder of their games.

“It’s very disappointing for sure,” safety Ryan Mundy said. “Coming into the season, we had very high expectations. This is the bed we made. So we have to lay in it now. It’s very frustrating and disappointing, but we still have three games left. We still have an opportunity to play the game that we loved as children. We’ll go out there and play with passion and have fun and enjoy working with these guys for three more games.”

With matchups on deck against the New Orleans Saints, Detroit Lions and the Minnesota Vikings, Bears defensive end Willie Young said now is the time the club embraces the spoiler role. In fact, now it’s time to start playing for jobs in 2015, according to Young.

“We’ve got everybody we need in place; playmakers, guys giving us great looks in practice every day,” Young said. “Everything is in place, you know? Like you said, you look back, and everything we have, our record doesn’t add up to anything we’ve done since offseason workouts beginning in April.I’m very disappointed with where we’re at right now. Who isn’t? But it’s important we stay together as a team. We can’t come in frowning, moping around, you know poor body language. We can’t do that. That’s not what we’re about here. The approach I take personally is that this is the beginning of next year. Right now this is the first week of next year, 2015 for us.”

Tight end Martellus Bennett agreed.

"I think everybody's job is always on the line," Bennett said. "For me, it's not really a distraction."

When Trestman addressed the Bears at Halas Hall on Monday, the coach said he reiterated “the most important thing is doing the best we can today, focusing on the next game and preparing for the next game.” By doing that, the players can show “what it is to be a professional” during difficult times, he said.

“It’s frustrating that it hasn’t worked the way that we wanted it, but that doesn’t change our focus or our level of intensity to try to improve it and make it better,” Trestman said. “Our purpose is to make our players better, and put them in position to win on Sunday and Monday night, and that’s what we’re going to try to do this week. That hasn’t changed since Day 1.”
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears are not mathematically eliminated from postseason contention, but at 5-8 there is not much left for the Bears to play for with three games remaining.

Still, Bears coach Marc Trestman won’t be taking a look to see what the club has in backup quarterback Jimmy Clausen.

"Jay [Cutler] is our quarterback," Trestman said. "If he’s available to play, he’s going to play. Jimmy is continuing to work in the offense, and he practices. We certainly like having him on our football team, but as we get ready for New Orleans next week, Jay will get the reps and he’ll be playing."

Signed to a seven-year contract worth $126.7 million back in January, Cutler hasn’t given the Bears much return on investment, considering the quarterback currently leads the league in turnovers (21) and entered Thursday’s loss to the Dallas Cowboys ranked 30th among 34 qualified signal callers in completion percentage (49.5) on throws deeper than 5 yards down the field.

Cutler passed for 341 yards and two touchdowns to go with a passer rating of 96.4 against the Cowboys, but the bulk of the quarterback’s production came in garbage time. The Bears trailed 35-7 to start the fourth quarter, with the Cowboys playing soft coverage to preserve their lead.

"I think we evaluate his performances game by game, and then when the season’s over, we evaluate the year," Trestman said. "So I don’t go into the statistical aspects of what he did this week or the next week. It’s how did he play yesterday, and how will he play next week? Really, that’s the only way we look at it from a week to week standpoint, make the corrections, go over what we did well, what we didn’t do well, and then move on."