In the second year of the Marc Trestman/Jay Cutler experience one thing has been made clear to Bears fans. The pairing that many thought would finally match Cutler’s potential with his results is not working. The Bears’ offense, which was near the top of the league last year, has taken a huge step backward. The defense, which was upgraded in the off season through free agency and the draft, has given up 50+ points in losses twice already this season. The talent is there particularly on offense, and the fact that it has not come together this year falls on the coach, the quarterback and the people who put them there.
Marc Trestman was supposed to the “quarterback whisperer”. The longtime journeyman who never found a long-term coaching home in the league despite his offensive brilliance. He was given all of the weapons on offense and in his second season as Bears head coach he has failed to make it work. There is no excuse for having this amount of talent on that side of the ball and be scoring as measly 21 points a game in only four wins in ten games.
So why hasn’t a coaching change been made? For one, pride. The Bears passed up Bruce Arians in favor of Trestman and we all see how that worked out for Arians, coaching the Arizona Cardinals to the best record in the NFL. The Bears decided to make Jay Cutler the highest paid player in the NFL instead of giving him the franchise tag and making sure that he was the guy before committing so much money to him. To come out and say they were wrong would be crippling to the pride of upper management in a season that was filled with such high expectations. And after losing 51-23 to the Patriots and then 55-14 to the Packers, their pride has been tested but somehow not broken.
But how difficult will it be for them to stand behind their choices after losing Sunday on the lakefront to the 2-8 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, coached by the coach they fired and the quarterback they let go? Lovie Smith coming to town and beating the Bears on their home field with one of the worst teams in the NFL would be rock bottom. And as is the case with most difficult issues, it usually takes “rock bottom” to incite any kind of change.
The Bears have the worst defense in the NFL, giving up 29 points per game. Tampa Bay is only two spots below, at 27.9. And Tampa Bay’s offense is even worse, sitting at 28th in YPG and 25th in PPG. Losing to this team would be bad enough – but if they were to lose to Lovie Smith and Josh McCown, the coach and quarterback the Bears moved on from, that might just be enough to cause the Bears brass so much shame they are forced to make a change immediately. I’m so tired of seeing Cutler stare down his receivers and throw into triple coverage. I’m so tired of hearing Marc Trestman come to the microphone and tell us how great practice was, how they are working on all three phases and how they’re focusing on the next one. Accountability is more than the words you say, its in the actions you take to correct it. Trestman and Cutler have only gotten to one half of that equation this year.
The alternative is the Bears winning Sunday, pulling off a few more wins in the last half of this season and finishing middle of the road, 7-9 or 8-8. According to management, they would be a team “coming off a tough start but trending upward at the end of the season”. Or at least that is what we would be fed while little to no changes are made. We would be given the same false sense of hope we’ve been given for years and give them no reason to make significant changes. This would leave us in the worst possible place to be as a professional sports team: Mediocre. Middle of the road. And heading into the off season with another mid-to-late first round pick, not a lot of cap flexibility, and more or less the same coach and roster, we’d just be spinning out wheels.
Big changes need to happen, sooner rather than later. The only way I see that happening is a loss on Sunday to Lovie and the Bucs. If the Bears lose this game, the blowback against ownership will be deafening. A win just brings the Bears one step closer to mediocracy. A fate we’re all too familiar with.