The Bears organization does not want to fire Marc Trestman at the end of this season; not when they know the 2015 offensive talent will look remarkably similar to the 2014 offensive talent and a systemic overhaul would likely burn through another year of “the window” in the name of transition. But Trestman won’t avoid the sack as a matter of convenience. The next seven weeks offer him an opportunity to earn another season at the helm. Here’s the map.
Step #1. Trestman’s Bears beat the Vikings and Bucs at home. This would move the team to 5-6 and at least slightly mute the chorus of naysayers. These games are must wins. Can anything Trestman achieves the remainder of the 2014 campaign be taken seriously if his team loses to Teddy Bridgewater or Josh McCown at home? (A loss to Lovie Smith would be an especially emphatic nail in the coffin.)
Step #2. Trestman’s Bears deliver a spirited effort on Thanksgiving. This will be the next time the Bears receive any national attention. It would be imperative from a public relations perspective for the Bears to (a) not embarrass themselves and (b) show the fight and passion missing from their efforts against New England and Green Bay. In many ways beating the Lions on Thanksgiving and moving to .500 would not only be a saving face performance but it might also create optimism around the coach’s potential to lead this organization into the future.
Step #3. Trestman’s Bears split their high profile, primetime contests at home with the Saints and Cowboys. Assuming both the Saints and Cowboys are going to be in serious playoff contention come December, these will be two motivated teams and true, meaningful challenges. These are exactly the games Trestman needs on the schedule. The non-contenders don’t provide him an opportunity to prove anything. Playoff contenders do. Bears need to play hard in front of a national audience and split these two games at worst.
Step #4. Finish Strong. Does Trestman have to win the final two games of the season? Perhaps. But one thing must certainly be true: there can be no doubt at the end of these final two games that the offense is in a position to excel at the start of the 2015 season. There must not only be signs of progress from the offense. There must be concrete evidence of success on that side of the ball and there must be no worse than a .500 record on the season.
Is all this likely? Of course not. The team is dreadful and will most likely lose 4 or 5 of their final seven. But the schedule provides a map for the coach to stay. He needs to navigate the road.