By Dan Bernstein-
CBSChicago.com senior columnist
(CBS) About one thing, Bears coach Marc Trestman was assuredly correct.
“The No. 1 thing we have going for us right now is we’re going into the bye,” he said, shortly after his team got whipped by the Patriots a couple weeks back.
This presumably indicated his belief that he and his staff just needed enough time to work their magic, re-imagining their “systems of football” in a way that would reboot the Bears — just turn them off and turn them on.
Two weeks of solid preparation and newly dedicated application of all those complicated principles, galvanizing the team behind him, and it would all be OK.
It turns out that not playing football is indeed the best thing for the Bears, because any lukewarm attempt to do so is a convincing argument for regime change. Swiftly.
To say the Bears quit in a 55-14 loss to the Packers on Sunday night that dropped them to 3-6 would be unfair, because it would assume that anything was ever even begun at Lambeau Field. This is what the Long Quit looks like – the culmination of weeks of steady, noticeable erosion of a team’s belief in its coach and, in turn, itself.
The seeds for this game were planted in training camp and sown by a weak, permissive culture devoid of authority and accountability. Trestman’s spinelessness and circle-talking prattle, general manager Phil Emery’s manufactured arguments in support of bad players who he thinks are good, Jay Cutler’s inherent blithe indifference and Brandon Marshall’s over-romanticized pathological narcissism have conspired to bring them here.
And here is beyond bad.
There’s nothing for Trestman to say, now. Any previous buy-in from any hopeful player in that locker room has been sold short, cashed out at a loss. Not one word from him can stop that at this point, nor can one from any other Bear trying to take the lead by posing in front of reporters. What was the word Marshall used that time, again?
“Unacceptable.” That’s it. There are others applicable, too.
“Downright embarrassing,” analyst Cris Collinsworth declared on NBC. “This is a proud franchise that’s being humiliated here tonight.”
And that was early in the second quarter, before it got historic.
“This much talent and nothing to show for it,” is what Collinsworth concluded, just ahead of the 82-yard interception return for touchdown that made it 55-7, Packers. Afterward, Collinsworth could only offer a quiet, “This will not sit well.”
Professional football teams aren’t allowed to perform so unsatisfactorily without some kind of response beyond the plaintive wails and acid invective of insulted fans. No teams are, but particularly one that had just completed its midseason break for introspection and recalibration.
Trestman’s vaunted “toolbox of concepts” is empty. Even in the mythical Pandora’s Box, after the release of all its similarly hideous contents upon the world, the Spirit of Hope remained at the bottom. Not so in this case. There’s no reasonable cause for anything like that. Not anymore, and not one bit.
The Bears were built to win now, don’t forget. This very time is the dead center of the championship window, for which a quarterback was locked in, an aging receiver rewarded and at least one over-scouted veteran defensive lineman signed.
This was supposed to be really good. Not just meh, not bad and certainly not whatever this has become. The contemplation of longer-term ramification of such abject failure is so much more than sobering, especially when any look at the Bears’ current reality demands first the consumption of some strong stuff.
If anything is to be salvaged from the wreck – and it’s possible that nothing can – it starts with a cold look at who is under contract and what voices may need to be heard to get the best out of some sunk commitments. You have heard that before, I understand, and all too recently.
But these coaches, at least and in this moment, have been reduced to useless ciphers. This group won’t be here when and if the Bears ever pull out of their unconscionable tailspin and contend for anything important.
If this isn’t enough, what does enough look like?
Marc Trestman should be going into the “Bye.”