God bless Bears offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer. Honesty was almost extinct at Halas Hall until he came along.
Whether his motivation in anonymously criticizing Jay Cutler to a reporter was frustration, anger, pride, ambition or something else doesn’t matter. His shots at the maddening quarterback told us that, regardless of what the franchise says publicly about Cutler, we aren’t blind and we aren’t stupid. His appraisal told us that there are people in the organization who see what we see: that Cutler is a team killer. It was spot on.
Kromer is a whistleblower — OK, a dog-whistleblower because it was done in a whisper to NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport. To say that what he did is a breach of professional protocol would be to imply there is something professional about the Bears.
Kromer acknowledged in a meeting with offensive players Monday that he was the source who told Rapoport that Cutler refuses to check out of bad running plays at the line of scrimmage, a habit he said has “absolutely killed’’ the Bears this season. Kromer denied being the person who told Rapoport that the franchise had buyer’s remorse about giving the quarterback a huge contract in January.
Whoever did share that with him deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for telling the truth. Or, if nobody in the organization other than the source has buyer’s remorse over giving Cutler $54 million in guaranteed money, the whole place should be blown up.
If I know this franchise, and unfortunately I do, there likely was an investigation into who spoke to Rapoport. Leaks are treated like bank heists at Halas Hall. Lose football games, sure. Be an embarrassment to the sport, fine. But God help you if you say something to the media that might be in any way revelatory.
Asked Friday how the organization had become aware he was the source of the report, Kromer said: “I feel like we’re going to handle this internally. The rest will be between us and the team.’’
Asked the same question, coach Marc Trestman said: “I can’t answer that question directly. I became aware of it because Aaron told me.’’
Short answer: The front office ran a leak-seeking operation.
The Bears are in the business of covering their behinds. In that sense, they’re not unique. All over the league, coaches and players are reluctant to be critical of each other or themselves. Kromer’s decision to be a source for the report has been portrayed as cowardly in some circles, but the bigger act of cowardice is the fear of not telling the truth, lest you lose your job.
Cutler said that he wasn’t angry during Kromer’s apology Monday and that “we left that meeting in a better place than we started.’’
“We’ve all made mistakes,’’ he said. “… I’ve said things out of character and things I wish I could take back, and that’s what happened here.’’
When Trestman stands before reporters and says he’s accountable for this miserable season, as he has all year, it means nothing. Tell us how you’re accountable, specifically. What have you done wrong? Same with the players. We never hear, “I was out of position. I stink. I’m lucky to still have a job.’’ We hear blah, blah, blah. Why? Because the Bears think fans and media members are idiots.
“We’ve chosen to use accountability as a big part of how we do things, all within the framework of our meeting rooms in this building,’’ Trestman said Friday.
But as far as being accountable to the ticket-buying customers, well, never mind.
The team is comfortable in its cocoon. But along comes an offensive coordinator who has the nerve to pull back the curtain a bit. Should Kromer have put his name to his words? This is the way information gets out in the NFL. It’s the way the game is played. It’s how we know what’s really going on.
If coaches and players always agreed to be quoted by name about what was on their mind, no one would have a job in the NFL. And all we’d have left was what the Bears are anyway: a 5-8 team that would have you believe it knows what it’s doing. Guess what? It doesn’t. Thank you for further exposing the truth, Aaron Kromer.
“I made a very poor decision talking about things outside the building,’’ he said.
No, you didn’t. And if this is the event that finally does in the current edition of the Bears, from general manager to head coach to quarterback, then you’re worthy of your own pedestal.