“I think every team at some point faces a little bit of adversity in the season, and the measure of that team is how they react to that adversity,” [George] McCaskey said. “We’ll see what these guys are made of. We have every confidence in Phil and Marc and the players to pull us out of this.”
-From a Michael C. Wright piece for ESPN
Ponder this question when someone asks if you believe the Bears would consider firing Marc Trestman at the end of the 2014 season. What is the worse crime: changing the offensive system on quarterback Jay Cutler for the 212th time during his tenure in Chicago or potentially wasting another season of one of the NFL’s best collections of offensive talent?
Because that question exists, because it can be asked, the next seven days are the most important seven days of Marc Trestman’s professional coaching career.
Now presented are two outcomes for Sunday evening.
Outcome #1: Bears beat Packers
If the Bears leave Lambeau Field with a win Sunday evening there will be an alarming confidence leaking out the windows of Halas Hall as early as Monday morning. The win would move the Bears to 4-5 with home games against the Vikings and Bucs to follow. (Bears would be around touchdown favorites in both contests.) A win Sunday night, coupled with this easier schedule, can pivot the season in a positive direction and call off the Fire Everyone dogs. It could also conceivably set the stage for a 6-5 Bears team playing to assert themselves into the playoff picture on Thanksgiving.
Outcome #2: Packers crush Bears
CANDIDATES START TO EMERGE
It will not take long for the buzzards to start circling the decaying carcass should the Bears suffer another national embarrassment. The talk will change from “should the Bears dismiss Trestman” to who should replace him. The names you’ll hear:
- If Michigan does not throw $10M a year at Jim Harbaugh then someone in the NFL is going to start offering draft picks to acquire his services. Harbaugh’s antics wear out a franchise and roster but he wins and right now that’s all Bears fans want. (I also think Harbaugh-Cutler would have shades of Ditka-Harbaugh.)
- What if the Bears decided Trestman’s personality and demeanor were the problem? Might they look into bringing in a defensive-minded head coach like Rex Ryan (for historic symmetry) or Todd Bowles while convincing Aaron Kromer to remain as the offensive coordinator? Kromer is under contract and this would eliminate the biggest issue with letting Trestman go: system change.
- Nobody believes more in Jay Cutler than Mike Shanahan and Shanny has made it very clear he does not want his awful experiences in Washington to be the end of his NFL coaching career. Shanahan’s track record of draining every ounce of potential from a run game while understanding how to utilize Cutler’s skill set would immediately put the offense back on track. But what would his defensive approach be? (Wanna read some old school Tribune reporting on McCaskey, Bowlen, Shanahan, Ditka…etc.? CLICK HERE.)
These are by no means the only viable approaches. But these are the ones you’ll start hearing in the very near future should the Bears lose Sunday night.
Even though individuals like Dan Bernstein and David Haugh “exist” in Chicago, almost every coach imaginable wants the Bears job. (Boomer Esiason has mentioned on his NY-based radio program the Bears and Giants are only two teams Bill Cowher would consider if returning to coaching.) It comes with hurdles, mostly jackasses like the aforementioned, but winning means a football and financial legacy unparalleled in the NFL. Win a Super Bowl as Bears coach, open steakhouses with your name on them. That happens NOWHERE ELSE. Nobody eats at Holmgren’s Ham Hocks in Green Bay or Cowher’s Chowder House in Pittsburgh.
All About Trestman
Marc Trestman spent a majority of his life navigating the shallow coaching waters of college, the NFL and Canada. Thirty-three years after joining Howard Schnellenberger’s staff at the University of Miami, Trestman is running one of the game’s legendary franchises. He has reached the mountaintop. But he is learning quickly that thirty-three years of climbing can be nullified by stepping on the wrong stone atop that mountain.
From Jason La Canfora at CBS:
The Bears are in a state of crisis, according to several sources with knowledge of the locker room, with a leadership void further fueling their downward spiral. Players are tuning coach Marc Trestman out, according to numerous sources, there has been increased in-fighting in recent weeks and the team’s dedication has been called in to question at times by players and coaches alike, sources said.
States of crisis come from losing. Leadership voids occur on losers. In-fighting and tuning out of coaches may happen inside winning locker rooms but nobody cares. Winning cures all. Winning quiets critics. Winning silences the “sources” that fill column space across the NFL media landscape.
Trestman must win Sunday night at Lambeau Field, not only because at 3-6 the Bears season is over. Trestman must win Sunday night because if he does not the noise around him will only grow louder and in Chicago that noise can be suffocating. It may not only be a one-game season. It may be one game to keep his job.
Because when an NFL team heads towards the iceberg the players become rats on the Titanic. The only difference is these rats start texting Adam Schefter and blaming the captain.