An anonymously sourced story throwing the starting quarterback under the bus, an offensive coordinator tearfully apologizing for it and a franchise player left shaking his head in disbelief.
Anonymous sources sometimes tell reporters about locker room rifts. It's rarer that a coach is the one who violates the sanctity of the locker room, but it happens. That that coach would turn around and confess to the player he sandbagged is practically unheard of. That four different people turned around and told Biggs it happened is stunning.
Kromer's first offense, speaking candidly to a reporter about his quarterback's disappointing performances, is not the reason he, or head coach Marc Trestman, should lose their jobs.
The Chicago Bears need a new coaching staff because Trestman has utterly failed to do what he was hired to do: unlock the potential of the Bears offense and lead them back to NFC title contention.
Two years ago, the Bears fired head coach Lovie Smith on the heels of a 10-win season. Why? Smith's repeated failures to build an offense that could keep up with his defense.
"If he stayed," then-new general manager Phil Emery told The MMQB's Robert Klemko, "he would be picking his fifth offensive coordinator."
Enter Trestman: an outside-the-box hire with an impressive old-school NFL pedigree who'd been spinning offensive straw into gold in the Canadian Football League. Giving him Cutler, all-purpose stud running back Matt Forte, go-to receiver Brandon Marshall and explosive youngster Alshon Jeffery seemed incredibly promising.
Trestman just needed to get through to Cutler and consistently get the best out of his incredible physical talent. Of course, offensive minds from Mike Martz to Mike Shanahan had tried and failed to pull the sword out of that mental block, but Trestman seemed smart, creative and innovative enough to pull it off.
"If you’re going to have success," Emery said, "the most important relationship is between the head coach and the quarterback. I like our quarterback. I think Jay Cutler is very talented. He wants to improve. I know he needed to improve for us to be a championship team. When we were looking at making a change we knew that if we were going to do it we were going to make that the focus point."
After two seasons under Trestman, there's no question Cutler has taken a big step forward:
|Jay Cutler, Improvement Under Trestman|
|Rest of Career||60.8%||4.60%||3.38%||6.31%||5.79|
Compared to the seven previous seasons, his rate stats are better across the board: His completion rate is up, his touchdown rate way up, interception rate down and sack rate way down.
The Bears had the No. 2 scoring offense in 2013, and it seemed like the Great Experiment was working. There were two minor concerns, though: 1) backup quarterback Josh McCown definitively outplayed even the new, improved Jay Cutler in a few relief outings, and 2) the defense completely fell apart.
In 2012, the defense allowed a third-best average of 17.3 points per game. Under Trestman and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, the defense allowed nearly twice as many points per game (29.9), more than offsetting the gains the offense made.
This season, the offense has regressed to pre-Trestman scoring rates, and the defense ranks dead-last.
This narrative glosses over major personnel changes and injury issues, especially on defense. The cornerstones of Smith's defense, including middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, cornerback Charles Tillman and defensive end Julius Peppers have eroded.
Yet the collapse has been as complete as it's been astonishing—and the offense has added hugely talented pieces like tight end Martellus Bennett and offensive guard Kyle Long. Somehow, the offense has become less than the sum of its parts, and there's no more damning statement you can make about an offensive architect.
Oh, except, his players and coaches are having melodramatic locker room breakdowns and leaking reports of them to the media.
In today's NFL, being a great offensive or defensive coach isn't anywhere near enough to be a great skipper. A head coach is an executive leader, the public face of the franchise. He's the one who sets the tone on the playing field, the practice field, the meeting rooms and the locker room.
Instead, Kromer told NFL Network the Bears are feeling "buyer's remorse" after signing Cutler to a seven-year, $126.7 million contract, via Michael C. Wright of ESPN.com. A source told Wright Cutler "certainly isn't happy" in the wake of the report and "doesn't trust anyone."
You can tell an effective head coach by how well the team reflects his personality—and you can tell an ineffective one by a team with no identity at all. On the field, the Bears are listlessly slogging through an indifferent season. Off the field, for all the hot takes about Kromer's outburst being a violation of team unity and trust, the incident proves there isn't any unity or trust in Halas Hall to violate.
That's the reason Trestman, Kromer and the rest of the Bears coaches should go. The only question is how many chances will Emery get to find the right head man for the job?