Dysfunction is one thing. Slapstick is another.
Last week, an embattled Marc Trestman tried to shake a fist at the world by benching rich-and-infamous Jay Cutler for low-budget Jimmy Clausen. That’ll teach ’em! On Monday afternoon, the Bears head coach meekly told reporters that Clausen would miss the regular-season finale against Minnesota because of “delayed” concussion symptoms he had suffered the day before.
Who is writing this script? Adam Sandler?
Just when you think the season will finally skulk off in search of a hole to die in, it stands up and moons us one more time. Cutler, the official Bears pariah for less than a week, is back as the starting quarterback. David Fales, a rookie with a name just begging for a game-day headline, will be his backup Sunday. If you spend time thinking about how far and how fast this season has plummeted, trust me, your concussion symptoms will not be delayed.
Clausen got hurt when the Lions’ Ziggy Ansah nailed him with a helmet-to-helmet blow in the fourth quarter Sunday, the Bears said. Clausen immediately jumped up and confronted Ansah for the hit, then played the rest of the game. He performed decently in his first start since 2010, and his numbers (23-of-39, 181 yards, two touchdowns, one interception) would have been much better had it not been for seven dropped passes.
After the game, he met with the media, expressed confidence in his abilities and even praised the team. That’s when the Bears should have known he was concussed.
And so the circus rolls on. If it’s not wide receiver Brandon Marshall challenging a trash-talking fan to a boxing match (as part of what Marshall called an anti-bullying campaign!), it’s offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer getting outed as the anonymous source in a national story ripping Cutler.
On the same day that Cutler found out he’s again the starting quarterback, kicker Robbie Gould defended him and seemed to criticize Trestman during a radio show. Because these are the Bears.
“Jay’s not the problem, Jay is not the issue,” Gould told WSCR-AM. “It’s not the Bear way. This whole season is not the Bear way. Pointing fingers, things getting out of the locker room, that’s not the Chicago Bear way. And I think for me, being around an organization for 10 years, seeing guys like Charles Tillman, Lance Briggs, who most likely have walked through the tunnel the last time — it’s tough. We weren’t taught this way under Lovie (Smith, the Bears’ previous head coach).
“We weren’t taught to do these things, and we stayed together as close-knit as we possibly could. You don’t have to like everybody, you don’t need to like everybody. But you have to respect everybody and go to work for those people. It’s unfortunate for everyone because it’s not the Chicago Bear way.”
The Chicago Bear way – is that when a kicker questions his head coach’s decisions?
The Chicago Bear way – is that when Briggs misses a practice the week of the first regular-season game to fly to California for the grand opening of his new restaurant? Let’s not get nostalgic. Almost from the start, the pining for the Lovie era by veterans undercut Trestman’s ability to do his job.
Winning should be the Chicago Bears way. The rest is what’s left behind by the circus elephants.
On the day he announced that Clausen would be starting against Detroit, Trestman had said, “Every quarterback’s on his own journey.’’ He said that because that’s the kind of thing he says. Another kind of coach, the Ditka kind, would have said, “Jay sucks right now, and I’m not so sure he didn’t suck before.’’
The journey just did a 180.
“I believe that Jay can work his way out of this,” Trestman said Monday. “I’ve enjoyed coaching him and working with him. And we had dialogue last week. And we worked together last week. It was a tough week on him. I empathize with him on that. But we’re moving forward, both with the idea that we’ve worked together for a long time and that hasn’t changed.”
This season was lost a long time ago, and if the Bears are in the process of trying to figure out what they have for the future, it wouldn’t hurt to give a few series to Fales on Sunday in Minneapolis.
Or, if what happens Sunday somehow factors into the futures of general manager Phil Emery, Trestman and Cutler in Chicago, pray that the Bears start Gould at quarterback against the Vikings.