Things can’t get any worse for the Chicago Bears, can they? Jay Cutler looks like a quarterback who has given up, Marc Trestman looks like a coach who knows he’s going to get fired, and a season that once again began with so much promise and expectations is imploding on all fronts at the nastiest and most humiliating of ways.
If losing to the New England Patriots by 28 points wasn’t enough, the Bears came to Lambeau Field and lost 55-14 to the Green Bay Packers. This made it another season sweep for the Packers over Chicago, winning by a combined 62 points with Aaron Rodgers once again painfully reminding Bears fans of just how different and better he is compared to their own franchise quarterback, who is also the highest paid NFL player in 2014.
Marc Trestman seemed to throw Cutler under the bus a day later. Not that Cutler doesn’t deserve some share of the blame, but he is playing once again behind a shaky offensive line at best, not to mention the defense that for about a decade was constantly ranked among the best in the NFL and has now bottomed out, looking like the most easiest unit to score against, giving up a league worst 30.8 points per game, including twice more than 50 points.
He didn’t play well enough yesterday, and we didn’t play well enough. I’m certain he’d take accountability for that. But it’s very clear he did not play well enough yesterday. We can’t sugarcoat that. At the same time, we didn’t play collectively well enough as a team. I think we’ve got to go back and get ready for Minnesota. With that in mind, Jay’s got to play better. He’s got to play better, but he can’t do it alone. He’s got to play better just like the rest of us do. The most alarming things is that those things are not showing up in practice, and they certainly didn’t last week.
Cutler has been sacked 23 times this season and his sack rate has risen to 6.8%. For years Cutler was among the easiest to sack in the NFL, but last season, Trestman’s first with the team, it dropped to 5.1%. There were jokes running around the league that for the first time in over a decade, the Bears actually have a combination of quarterback-offensive line that some teams might actually feel envious about. It didn’t lead them to the playoffs, partially because of another injury Cutler sustained during the season, which helped Josh McCown find a starting job he’s failing at right now in Tampa.
Cutler hasn’t changed much during his NFL career. He’s a very talented quarterback, with a big arm and the ability to make some very difficult throws. But he’s never really thrived under pressure – not late in games (usually) and especially not when the offensive line is crumbling around him. The Bears knew all that and still went ahead and gave him a massive contract that didn’t allow them to improve the defense or the offensive line. Cutler has plenty of offensive weapons in Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett, but he’s not always in a position to make the most of them.
And Cutler isn’t a leader. The Bears had Brian Urlacher to rally the locker room in the past, but dumped him and forced him to retire. That left them with a huge void in both leadership and ability on defense after having one of the best middle linebackers in the league for years. They still haven’t been able to fill it, although injuries have been destroying this defense this season. But this is the NFL, and it’s hard to find a team not being hurt by that.
And then there’s Trestman himself. An “offensive genius” when he came out of the CFL to show the Bears how it’s done. He seemed to change something in Cutler, but the defense hasn’t really done well under him and Mel Tucker, who also might not have a job by the end of this season or maybe even before. Whatever that change was, it didn’t last. Trestman’s play calling hasn’t been hard to figure out as well. Maybe the pressure is getting to him to.
It’s hard to see the Bears making the playoffs, which will mean a fourth consecutive season of missing out. Unlike previous years, this one won’t be even close and after two losses that are ranked among the worst in the history of the franchise, the big fear is that there’s actually further down to go in terms of humiliation and embarrassment.