By Tim Baffoe-
(CBS) There’s an unfortunate bit of joy here. It’s a sad pleasure that I fully recognize and am not proud of.
Some of us witnessing this travesty of the 2014 Chicago Bears have tried to self-medicate with humor, but it only masks pain or disgust. That’s all still there, but with some added sadism this week.
The good news is that the season is almost over. One more game you have to force yourself to sort of care about. (Hey, the return of Jay Cutler to starting quarterback adds some spice, right? No? Not really?) Just don’t let any limbs fall off of Matt Forte or Alshon Jeffery, hopefully the Bears lose to secure the seventh pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, and that all will be the saving grace as the casket is lowered into the earth this coming Sunday.
A funereal feeling should hang over this week like a pall, not just in the end of a really bad season but the tenure of a Bears coach as well. The end of the Dick Jauron era had that feeling — “He was a nice man, and he’s free from pain now and on to a better place.” But that isn’t the case this time, and that’s Marc Trestman’s own fault.
Any time a coach was certain to be losing his job in the past, I viewed it as though I was watching something terribly inappropriate, even if I endorsed the firing. It always felt wrong to be peeking in on somebody’s involuntarily final days on a job. We certainly wouldn’t do it in real-world professions.
It could have been that way with Trestman, uncomfortable but accepting, but instead of avoiding figurative eye contact with a guy I know is out, I’m staring him down disapprovingly because of the way he’s handled these last few weeks in a season that showed me I was conned and sold a bill of goods. Once the soft-spoken nerd coach realized after the (insert any of the savage beatings the Bears took) game that he wouldn’t be back, he got spiteful, and nobody feels bad for spite. And nobody should feel bad for mine right now either.
I don’t want a Viking funeral after the game against the Vikings. I want the Trestman coaching era and the toolbox of concepts and all the growing of the man and the nightmare hairdo fired from a cannon into the sun.
Trestman benched Jay Cutler against the Lions to do some lame combination of scapegoating and résumé-padding. “Hey, look, in a severely watered down game plan that I put in for that specific week, Jimmy Clausen wasn’t brutal. Obviously the spectacular pants puddle regression of the Bears offense from 2013 to 2014 must be not so much my fault as … well … someone else’s.”
Trestman’s veterans checked out on him a while ago. Lance Briggs did everything but call him a bad coach and has been deafeningly silent during these the worst weeks of the joke it has all become. Charles Tillman has been as PC as he can whenever pressed about it all. And then there was Robbie Gould on Monday morning with the Spiegel and Mannelly Show.
“I honestly don’t even know what the message is, to be honest with you,” the Bears kicker said regarding what Trestman was trying to convey to the team with the Cutler benching.
“I wish Jay was out there playing.”
Without specifically calling Trestman a failure, Gould went on to discuss how things were different under former coach Lovie Smith, how the locker room wasn’t the farce it is now, and he noted, “You don’t win, you get fired. That’s usually how it goes.”
Trestman has looked really bad in his press conferences regarding the Cutler benching, the promo for Cutler II: The Unbenchening and the Aaron Kromer apology for honesty. He’s also gone from using cute incoherent coaching jargon in better times to becoming snippy of late at local media that all in all has treated him pretty fairly in his limited time here.
The great irony of it all is that Trestman has dumped so many radioactive chemicals into this meltdown of a season that Cutler has come out looking the most like a grownup, handling his bus-tossing by his offensive coordinator and his benching with total class publicly (even though probably maniacally laughing at how, at the end of each day dumber than the last, the Bears sadly need him more than he needs them).
And now Cutler is back starting due to Clausen’s concussion, and the inanity comes full circle. Cutler was benched as a middle finger to general manager Phil Emery, and now Cutler is starting instead of rookie David Fales in a completely pointless game as two birds flipped at one GM. (And, Phil, don’t think I don’t have a similar satisfied eulogy when your tenure croaks this year or next. You’re as much to blame for this lack of humanity I have right now.)
Trestman turned into the exact opposite of what was assumed that the Bears were getting in a head coach. Playcalling? Bad. Competency?Farted. Nice guy demeanor? Gone. That all puts a spiteful smile on one’s face watching the garbage fire come to a bubbling, stinking end.
This isn’t hugs and giving comfort pats on others’ backs. I’m shovel-in-hand eagerly tossing not dirt but cement into the hole. The 2014 Bears must be sealed away permanently after I added a step to the Kübler-Ross stages of grief in the form of hate-watching this team that seemed so quirky and interesting before the season and is now fairly loathsome. And that was precipitated mostly by the head coach who I now come to bury and most definitely not to praise.
I would much rather feel uncomfortable and sorry, but instead it’s spite. It didn’t have to be this way.
Tim Baffoe is a columnist for CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @TimBaffoe.