By Tim Baffoe-
(CBS) How was your Thanksgiving? Hopefully you had some quality time spent with loved ones, ate well, had minimal uncomfortable sociopolitical conversations, and were provided with at least a few hours (and/or cocktails) that allowed you to forget about the decapitated and defeathered bird that is the Chicago Bears.
But now it’s back to reality, back to the important things in life like critiquing sports and mass consumerism. As we brace ourselves for hilarious videos of sad people rushing through opening mall doors and somebody stabbing their fellow man to death with the sharpened head of one of The Backyardigans, the realization that the Bears’ season is a mere playing out of the string sets in. We can pick at the carcass of this team, but it has given us enough turkey for sandwiches through the new year. (I apologize for none of these bad holiday references, by the way.)
Now the shopping list manifests itself, and while the Bears can’t exactly rush into a RadioShack to buy the love of fans (but they can call a screen pass — get it?), their own special version of Black Friday starts today.
Massive change needs to occur if this team is to have any hope of erasing one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history and competing next season. Neither is likely, but you still have to shop for that bratty nephew that will complain regardless. You have to try to buy his love.
So what has the organization coupon-clipping today?
If Bears coach Marc Trestman is relieved of his duties after the season (and stop yelling for him to be fired now because that’s pointless if you acknowledge that he still has to be paid and there’s nobody on the staff right now who should replace him for a lost season), so be it. Nothing about his work this year has acted as justification for retention.
Still, I doubt he gets fired, which leaves him and the offense with the necessity for philosophical overhaul. The Bears went from second in the NFL in points per game in 2013 to currently 21st. And that’s with a roster that didn’t diminish in talent from last year to this year.
The opponents have figured out Trestman’s playbook. They’ve figured out ways to squash much of the big-play abilities of two Pro Bowl wide receivers. They’ve learned to let the Bears try to beat them with a running back in a league that has shifted away from ground domination. The loss Thursday to Detroit was a microcosm of the Trestman game-calling failure of 2014 — things worked early, the competition made necessary adjustments, and then the Bears didn’t and got embarrassed. That can’t happen in 2015.
Un-piss off Matt Forte
Despite other teams mostly allowing Forte to be the bright spot of this offense, the Bears decided Thursday to forget about him even while the alternatives weren’t working. Never one to voice emotion, Forte was noticeably frustrated after the loss to the Lions and did everything he could to not specifically blame the coaching.
“We’ve talked about it all year long, but talent only gets you so far,” he said. “When you look at it like that, you can have the most talent in the world, but if you don’t put it to work out there, it does no good for you.”
Better buy your running back something real nice because the guy who has always been stoic amid things crumbling around him is finally really pissed.
A new title for Alshon Jeffery
He’s the Bears’ top receiver, so he needs to be referred to as such. Brandon Marshall continued to prove Thursday that his paycheck doesn’t make him the MVP of the Bears’ passing game. Marshall dropped balls and was largely a non-factor Thursday, targeted 11 times with 42 yards to show for it. Jeffery had two scores and looked like he wanted to be out there.
Nobody listened when the Bears were told it really looked like the return game was lacking. And then in 2014 the return game was lacking.
Regifting Jay Cutler and/or Marshall
It only takes one idiot, and the NFL is full of them. Logic dictates that nobody would take Jay Cutler’s contract off your hands, but apply logic to Daniel Snyder or the New York Jets and see where that takes you. There are quarterback-desperate teams, teams that have been burned in the draft and would be way more comfortable with an established name, even if that name causes spitting and cursing where it’s been before.
There’s no reason to continue paying Marshall if he’s going to be a headache while this team works to fix things. He’s had a chance to use his skills and voice positively, and try as he might, his presence seems more and more counterproductive. The Oakland Raiders would love getting a guy with his resume.
A football czar
Bears president Ted Phillips too often gets away unscathed season after season of the Bears not being title contenders. He’s an accountant, not a football guy. The McCaskey family is loyal to a fault and don’t want to fire a guy who seems like part of their family after 30 years with the team and 15 as its president. Move Phillips into a numbers-only role and bring in someone to oversee strictly football operations. What do you notice about the front office of the Packers compared to that of the Bears?
Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker is the sacrificial lamb about 48 hours after the Bears probably tie in Minnesota on Dec. 28. Then the draft needs to be focused on this side of the ball. Shut up about drafting a new quarterback who you’ll hate a week after you play with it (while ignoring that you don’t draft a quarterback when your current one is under the contract he is). Kyle Fuller was a nice pick, but he needs help. The linebackers fluctuate between being non-factors and laughable. Fix it.
A copy of Glengarry Glen Ross, now on Blu-ray!
If only for Alec Baldwin’s NSFW speech and if only to be applied to the torturous press conferences we’re all sick of being jargoned through.
“A-B-C. Always. Be. Converting third downs.”
“It takes brass balls to win football games.”
“I came here because Virginia McCaskey asked me to. She asked me for a favor. I said, the real favor, follow my advice and fire your butt because a loser is a loser.”
“As you all know, first prize is a Super Bowl. Anyone want to see second prize? Second prize is at least making the damn playoffs. Third prize is you’re fired. You get the picture?”
Get out there today, Bears. Hit the vast expanse of a supermall that is the NFL. Buy back our love.
Tim Baffoe is a columnist for CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @TimBaffoe.