The Chicago Bears are in the NFL’s version of purgatory.
They came into this season with the idea that they were not only good enough to wrest the NFC North title from the Green Bay Packers, but they also had the talent to compete with the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks and fight for the NFC Championship.
We’re not saying that anyone outside of Chicago believed that, but that was the party line coming from Halas Hall in suburban Lake Forest, Illinois.
What a joke.
The idea that any team with the always-polite Marc Trestman on the sidelines could get the most out of his team seems ludicrous.
There was plenty of evidence that Jay Cutler was not the kind of quarterback who could lead his team to the playoffs or win a game once they got there. He may have arm strength, athletic ability, and talent, but he doesn’t care. He also is averaging 6.93 yards per pass, a putrid figure that ranks 27th in the NFL.
The defense was horrific in 2013 and the Band-Aid moves made by general manager Phil Emery have done nothing to help the Bears when they compete against good teams.
After absorbing a 34-17 beating from the Detroit Lions, there is no doubt where the Bears stand. They are an awful NFL team capable of beating only the least competitive teams. What’s even worse than that is the players know just where they stand and just how hopeless their situation is.
In losses to New England and Green Bay, the Bears were simply non-competitive as they gave up more than 50 point in both games. The lasting images of those games are of Trestman looking bewildered on the sidelines, Cutler looking disinterested as their opponents lit up the scoreboard, Jordy Nelson running through the Bears’ miserable secondary and Aaron Rodgers actually laughing at them on the sidelines.
The Bears were better prepared for the Lions on Thanksgiving as they came out ready to play and jumped to a 14-3 lead. But once the Lions took a deep breath and got serious, the Bears simply did not have the backbone to continue the fight.
The Lions had been having problems sustaining their offense, but that’s before they had a chance to play against the Bears. Suddenly, Matthew Stafford found his touch and Calvin Johnson was running free and easy through the Bears’ secondary. Golden Tate was able to catch the ball in stride and run past and over tacklers, while running back Joique Bell pounded the Bears front seven and softened them up.
These awful games and this bad season is not why the Bears are in purgatory. It’s their own history that is working against them now.
Anyone looking from the outside can see that the leadership of Emery, Trestman, and Cutler is simply abysmal and that none of them can provide adequate answers to the questions that are being asked. Many teams would come up with a plan to clean house and replace all of them, but that is not the Bears’ way.
Emery replaced Jerry Angelo in 2012, and he hired Trestman to replace Lovie Smith after that season. Trestman may have been more conversational than Smith in his dealings with the media and he had several innovative ideas on how to lead the offense, but it’s clear that Trestman has no idea how to lead the team.
He has been much too accepting of his laconic quarterback, and it appears that he is afraid to stand up to him and show him who’s boss by sitting Cutler on the bench.
Do the Bears respect Trestman and believe he can turn them into winners? The answers to both questions are a resounding no.
The Bears are getting worse under Emery and Trestman, but both men have years to go on their contracts. Bears ownership have never shown that they are willing to clean house and act when failure is at hand. Unless George McCaskey is going to break form with tradition, he will give Emery and Trestman even more time to fail next year.
The Bears just signed Cutler last offseason to a seven-year contract. They are paying him $22 million this season they have $16.5 million committed to him next year, and there is no chance that they will cut him before the end of the 2015 season.
They probably won’t part company with him after that, either.
Defense was the Bears’ calling card since George Halas started the franchise and that was their strength during the Smith era. But the signature of this team has been rubbed out beyond all recognition. The current administration of the team has dishonored that legacy with the likes of Jared Allen, D.J. Williams, Ryan Mundy and Shea McClellin on the field each week.
The Bears have fallen apart, and there are no signs that this will turn around in the foreseeable future.
This is a disaster that won’t get any better unless ownership breaks its own tendencies and gets rid of those responsible for the mess they are in now.