By Dan Durkin-
(CBS) After their deflating 51-23 loss to the New England Patriots, the Bears limp into their bye week sitting at 3-5, trailing the Detroit Lions by three games in the NFC North.
General manager Phil Emery and coach Marc Trestman met with the media on Monday to discuss the state of the team at the midseason point. The coach who Emery hand-picked to replace Lovie Smith is 11-13 in his tenure. Trestman’s offense is regressing, his defense is allowing opposing quarterbacks to throw the ball at will and the error-prone special teams have failed to create field-position advantages.
Understandably, the tone was that of disappointment. Unsurprisingly, answers were hard to come by.
Here are some of the notable quotes from today:
Emery on the overall state of the team:
“We’re a 3-5 football team and that’s what our record states. We are what our record states. The NFL’s about winning games, and we deserve the criticism that we have and should have from that record. I’m extremely disappointed where we’re at as a football team right now, and that disappointment starts with being extremely disappointed for our fans. They, like us, held high optimism for the start of our season and where we would be at that midpoint, and we’ve let them down in that regard. We understand and share their frustrations and clearly understand our failures at this point. We’re responsible for our current record, and that responsibility starts with me. The season’s a full year, and the only way we’re going to get back on track is to learn from our mistakes, correct our errors, find solutions and stick together as a team through this process. We will not quit on the season. We will not quit on ourselves. We’re not going to quit on each other. The only way through this to get back on the right track, on a positive track, a winning track to win football games is to stick together. The solutions to win games are in this building with the people in this building.”
Trestman’s four indicators of where the team needs to focus on improving:
1) “Our turnover margin is not what we want it to be. And that goes to creating turnovers on the defensive/special teams side of the ball — which we haven’t done over the last couple of weeks — and then continuing to take care of it.”
2) “We’ve got to do a better job with the balance in our football team, particularly on the offensive side of the ball with the run and the pass, because when we do that we seem to be able to do a much better job of moving the football the way we like it.”
3) “We’ve got to do a better job with our matchups. Finding the right matchups offensively in terms of getting all of our players the opportunity to get the football in the manner that we would want them to. And on the other side of the ball, making sure we do the same defensively — getting matched up on the right guys, and we’re going to spend some time doing that as well.”
4) “And then we looked hard at the special teams. We’ve got a lot of young players. We’ve got to really work hard to develop these young guys — they’ve got speed, and they’ve got athleticism. We’re going to go to work on that as well. And as I said to the team, I’ve got to do a better job of putting ourselves in a position and letting this young football team (the Bears actually have the NFL’s third-oldest roster) in a lot of places understand what complementary football and continuity football is all about.
“How we work together to be able to get this job done because it’s never one side of the ball in the course of the game. Every side of the ball has to have a legitimate understanding and a thorough understanding of why this game is tied together in all three phases.”
Emery on quarterback Jay Cutler’s development:
“Honestly, I’ve been watching him since he’s from Vanderbilt. In the past, he was better than everybody around him, and when you’re better than everybody around you, you’re pressed to make plays. Coming out of Vanderbilt, some of his things from a technical standpoint were concerning, in terms of coming off the back foot, protecting the football. And a lot of that revolves around trying to make plays. And Jay, like a lot of players in that position, has a little bit of a gunslinger personality in terms of, ‘I wanna be the guy making the plays.’ He trusts his arm. Those are habits. Habits are hard to improve.
“Have I seen improvement from Vanderbilt? Absolutely. Have I seen improvement in the last two years? Yes, I have. Because I know where we were at two years ago, and I know how many sacks he took, how much pressure and hits that he played through and how he tried to overcome that group that was in front of him and how he tried to compensate. I think he’s bought all the way in terms of here’s what’s important, here’s the concepts that we’re trying to accomplish. We still have some time to go, we still have some things we have to clean up.”
Emery on the identity he envisioned for the team when he assembled the roster:
“Identity? Yeah, physical up front. When I look at where we’re at a year ago in terms of pass rush, we’re ahead of where we were a year ago. Are we where we were in 2012? Not yet. Overall more disruption on the passer, but not sacks.
“Those guys up front were brought in here to control the run, to stop the run and rush the passer. Have we improved against the run? Overall, we have. Are we where we want to be? No, we’re not. OK? We have a physical group upfront, that was part of bringing in the offensive players that we did. To be able to protect our passer and be able to run the football.
“As Marc pointed out, I don’t see that as an issue. When we commit to the run, we’ve been able to run the football as we were yesterday.”
Emery on developing a young special teams group:
“That’s on me. And I still believe in what we’re doing.
“You can’t develop, we’re a team that has not had a whole lot of (draft) picks. OK? So how are you going to develop your players if you keep, when you don’t have a lot of picks, you have to bring in free agents. You’re never going to have a nucleus of young players unless you’re willing to develop the ones you have. So if you bring in veteran special teams players, whatever young players you have are going to sit until the guy in front of them gets hurt. So the only way to develop them as football players is they have to get involved. That’s on teams. Young players we have on teams are athletic. There are some very good athletes on there with power.
“Cornelius Washington has been a find for us on teams. And he’s developing as a player because of it. Because he’s learned what a game routine is all about, how to focus in on improving himself on teams and on the field. So we brought in Ahmad Dixon. Before he got hurt, he was a big plus. Terrance Mitchell will be a plus for us as soon as we can get him worked into special teams, we will in terms of what our active gameday roster is. So do they need to fit better? Yes, they do in terms of their assignments and their lanes and their coverage. We’ve had some really good moments. We haven’t had enough of them.”
Emerey on Shea McClellin’s development:
“The most difficult thing for Shea has been the two times he’s started to roll – he had the big game against Green Bay two years ago, a year ago, then he got hurt and never got rolling that way again. Had a good game against San Francisco (this year), really finally figured out the play-action stuff, the reverse, the receivers running underneath the formation – ‘Hey, that means boot, I’m back’ – he took away about three or four routes that game, he leveraged the run against the option well, then he breaks his hand. Comes back, has a rough game here at home. He did some good things yesterday, but he, like the other linebackers that are in there, struggled with Tom Brady’s play action. Right now, like all of us, he’s our starting ‘Sam’ backer right now, he’s a 3-5 record-wise ‘Sam’ backer, and he has to get better. And we all do.”
Emery’s research project sparked by Brian Urlacher’s comments about only Cutler’s contract being elite:
“I think he talked a little bit about, as far as winning at that level. No, it didn’t bother me. Everybody is entitled to their thoughts an opinions. It did hit a research project for me, so I went back and looked at their time together on the field at the same time. Starting the game healthy, they played 38 games together and during those games, they were 26-12. So, they definitely won together. When Jay was off the field and Brian started, they were 1-6. When Jay was on the field without Brian, they were 9-12. So the only thing that I can get from all that is they were really good for each other. They’re both fine football players, lead in their own way and are both great for the organization. So, no, it didn’t bother me.”
Dan Durkin covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @djdurkin.