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Preemptive Requiem for the Marc Trestman Era

| December 26th, 2014

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If Marc Trestman is not fired as head coach of the Chicago Bears before the rye toast of Chicagoland browns Monday morning, the panic will be palpable.

FATHER: He can’t possibly be back, can he?

SON: No. It’s not possible.

FATHER: Why haven’t they fired him yet?

SON: They will…(wipes sweat from his brow)…they have to…

FATHER: You want butter?

SON: Jam.

Trestman’s first year as Bears head coach was defined by an explosiveness on offense never before seen from the city of Chicago’s football team. While balancing the worst defense in the history of the organization the Bears offense managed to guide the club to a .500 record, giving them an opportunity to win a division title on the final week of the season. (A game they lost purely by mental breakdowns on the defensive side of the ball.) It seemed in Marc Trestman the Bears had found their guy.

Here were the four reasons I liked the hiring of Marc Trestman in January of 2013:

It is the first significant movement by the Chicago Bears organization towards becoming a modern NFL franchise. This is an offense/passing league, a quarterback league and very few head coaching candidates have the quarterback coaching credentials of Trestman.

Trestman has a short but important history with Jay Cutler. When they step into their first meeting room (in the next month or so) Trestman will not only be working with thirty year-old Cutty but also working with the memory of a strong-armed kid out of Vanderbilt.

Yes it took place in Canada but Marc Trestman has led AN ENTIRE football team for five years and won two championships. Will that success translate immediately? Who knows. But it means Trestman has experience overseeing the entirety of a roster and managing a full coaching staff. If you discount that fact you fail to acknowledge one of the most difficult transitions from coordinator to head coach.

It is NOT the safe choice. It is NOT the easy choice. And being that Phil Emery had Trestman at Halas Hall for much of Sunday and Monday without anyone – Dickerson, Zaidman, Jensen, Biggs – knowing means how he’s perceived in the local media is not near the top of his Things I’d Like to Achieve list.

The offense scored with the best units in the sport. The quarterback looked confident and comfortable. And while the defense struggled mightily Trestman seemed to have command over the entirety of the locker room. The unsafe choice, it seemed, was the right choice for the Chicago Bears.

Then 2014…

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…the saddest, most embarrassing season of the Super Bowl era for the Chicago Bears.

The success/progress of 2013 has been wiped away by the disaster of 2014. The high-powered scoring offense looked a shell of itself, refusing to utilize its best player effectively (Matt Forte) whilst abandoning the down-field, big play ability that seemed to define it a year earlier. The quarterback’s square peg arm suddenly seemed forced into a round hole system, leading to comfort & confidence grabbing the first shuttle back to the Soldier Field parking lot. The defense improved in areas but was still incapable of stopping any halfway decent quarterback.

But on-field failures, when it comes to scheme and execution, can almost be forgiven in the second year of a coaching tenure.

What can not be forgiven is the Bears general lack of competitiveness throughout the season, leading to their being down double-digits a ridiculous eleven times (so far). Dolphins fans want Joe Philbin out in Miami. He mentally manhandled Trestman. The Saints? Week 14, lost at home to Carolina, 41-10. Week 16, lost at home to Atlanta, 30-14. Week 15? On the road at Chicago? 31-15 Saints.

What can not be forgiven is the complete lack of accountability at any position on the field throughout this season, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Firing Mel Tucker may not have improved the defense but it would have sent a message to defenders, would it not? Cutting snaps for veterans like Lance Briggs, Jared Allen or Tim Jennings might have meant nothing in terms of outcomes but maybe, just maybe, infusing youth into the lineup might have provided an emotional spark? Doing nothing was not the answer.

What can not be forgiven is the coach’s disgraceful lack of action after his number one lieutenant’s admittance of locker room treason. Hell, Bill Cowher was infuriated even discussing the topic on CBS’ pregame show the following Sunday. These things don’t go unpunished under good head coaches. They don’t happen under great head coaches.

What can not be forgiven is Trestman’s desire to publicly humiliate his quarterback in an attempt to exclusively scapegoat the signal-caller for his own offensive failings. Everything released to the media since the Kromer leak has been an attempt by the Bears offensive coaching staff to preserve their reputations by laying blame for the offense at the feet of Cutler and Cutler alone. Even the fans who despise Cutler don’t buy it.

As the pressure mounted and losses piles up, Trestman’s performances in the front of the media were a nightmare. Suddenly he was no longer just an incompetent coach. Now he had become an unlikable, incompetent coach and jumped Dave Wannstedt in the polls.

Requiems are acts of remembrance. How will Marc Trestman be remembered in Bears history? Barely. He will be a trivia answer.

FATHER: Who was the coach between Lovie Smith and X…?

SON: I think it was the guy they got from Canada with the weird hair.

FATHER: Ohhhh, yea. Wow. Those were not good years.

SON: No they were not.

FATHER: Were newspapers still a thing then?

SON: Yeah, I think so.

2014 was supposed to be a season of progress – the escalation of a team from promising to potential champion. Instead Trestman’s lack of leadership and institutional control deescalated the promising to putrid, pathetic and any other fitting word beginning with “p” you’d like to include.

Now there is only the wreckage of what could have been a great ride. The clean-up starts Monday.

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