Bears must clean house
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Let’s recap the bizarre events of the past nine days and the organizational brokenness they represent. They all but scream for the bumbling Bears to clean house, from the general manager on down.
On Dec. 7, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that the Bears were having buyer’s remorse over the huge contract they had given quarterback Jay Cutler in January. An anonymous source told Rapoport that Cutler had “absolutely killed’’ the team by failing to change run plays at the line of scrimmage.
A day later, Bears offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer stood in front of members of the offense and revealed he had been the one who had criticized Cutler for his habit of not checking out of potentially bad plays. He denied telling Rapoport that the team had regrets about giving Cutler $54 million in guaranteed money or that it had serious doubts the quarterback could ever lead it to a Super Bowl. Whoever the source was, the truth is that the Bears absolutely should have regrets and doubts about their quarterback.
A mess, right? But look a little deeper and you’ll see just how messed up the whole situation is. Let’s assume that someone in the front office started investigating who leaked information to Rapoport. It’s the only thing that makes sense. Why would Kromer jeopardize his career by voluntarily admitting to criticizing Cutler in the media? Out of guilt? For contrition? Sorry, that doesn’t hold up.
The organization figured out that Kromer was the anonymous source – by security-camera footage, brutal interrogation tactics, drones, who knows? These are the paranoid Bears. Then someone had the very bad idea of letting Kromer admit in front of the offense that he was the leak. In other words, the Bears chose to further tear apart an already ripped-up team, to cause dissension and suspicion, and to ensure that they were going to be in turmoil for their next game, Monday night against the Saints.
It’s the type of decision that points to a clueless organization. If it’s so important to you to find the leak, fine, knock yourself out. But the decision to put the culprit in stocks and parade him in front of the team was damaging. Kromer’s tearful apology found its way to the media on Friday, and unnamed players were quoted. Other players were upset that teammates had leaked the details of the meeting. What delicious irony. Will there be a team investigation into which players talked to the media?
This is not an NFL franchise. This is a drunk trying to recite the alphabet backward.
Phil Emery, the general manager, has to go. So does coach Marc Trestman. I’d add president Ted Phillips to the list, but I’m not sure what he does and if he were to go, the only person standing between us and the football apocalypse would be chairman George McCaskey.
On second thought, all of them out. Now. And they can take Cutler with them.
A solid organization, had it learned of Kromer’s “betrayal’’ and been outraged by it, would have handled the situation quietly, perhaps fining him, perhaps choosing to fire him after the season. It would not have let this become a public issue.
This is a disordered organization. You could almost understand if a lack of smarts were the issue here. But it’s not. There is something fundamentally wrong with the Bears, something in their DNA that causes them to make terrible decisions, to hire the wrong people and to worry about things that don’t matter (leaks) in a 5-8 season instead of things that do (victories).
By cleaning house, one argument goes, the Bears could be setting themselves back years. Perhaps, but keeping this bunch guarantees that a toxic cloud will hover for the rest of the decade. That’s how bad this has become. The Bears need a football czar who knows what he’s doing, not a football czar who is preoccupied with assistant coaches sharing the truth with reporters.
Trestman has tried to create a culture of respect, humility and accountability. How has that worked out in terms of winning? Do you know what Dan Hampton would have done with respect, humility and accountability? He would have chewed them up and spit them out, then flossed with some poor running back’s knee ligament. The Bears need football players, not encounter-group attendees.
The team’s problems are systemic. Nobody at Halas Hall knows how to build a winning organization, and nobody has enough self-awareness to know he doesn’t know.
It’s hard to clean house when you can’t see the muck.