LAKE FOREST, Ill. (CBS) — Winds of change have blown through Lake Forest, with the Bears firing head coach Marc Trestman and general manager Phil Emery on Monday.
With uncertainty as to the organization’s new leadership structure, the news of these dismissals means changes in personnel are likely, too. When Trestman and his departing staff met with the team, the players were attentive.
“”We appreciate the coaches still having the meeting and saying their last words with the team, saying they appreciate everything,” said defensive tackle Stephen Paea.
Chicago finished the season with a record of 5-11, falling far below preseason expectations. The roster was constructed with what was supposed to be an identity of offense, led by Trestman, the touted offensive mind. As the season spiraled out of control, that identity was lost.
It remains to be seen what direction the Bears will go with their next head coach.
“The right coach for Chicago is one that wants to instill an identity and demands a team that has an identity, said Bears Pro Bowl guard Kyle Long. “When we play opponents, they should say, ‘We don’t want to play those guys.’ There’s a handful of teams in the NFL that are like that and I feel like we have the nucleus to do that.”
There is some semblance of a core in place, with several key players sure to return. However, much of the roster will be evaluated by the new management and jobs are in jeopardy.
Where the team goes from here remains to be seen, something pondered plenty on Monday.
“For me, I’m a chameleon when it comes to philosophies,” said tight end Martellus Bennett. “I think there were numerous ways to win and numerous ways to manage and operate a business or a team. There are a lot of different road to success. There’s no one way to win and there’s no wrong way to eat a Reese’s.”
One of the greatest indictments of Trestman and Emery—and changes from Smith’s regime—is how the Bears’ defense faltered. In 2013, Chicago was dead last in the NFL in scoring defense, and it was 31st in 2014, just barely ahead of Oakland.
For some members of the Bears’ past success, the difficulties of the defense were frustrating.
“We kind of got away from what we are as the Chicago Bears,” said cornerback Tim Jennings. “We kind of got away from the style of defense we play.”
What’s next for the Bears is unknown to the players who cleaned out their lockers today at Halas Hall. Meanwhile, management is plotting out a plan in the upstairs offices.
All of this could have been avoided if the Bears were better than their dismal record. It cost the coaches and general manager their jobs.
“The truth of the fact is we were 5-11,” Paea said. “We’ve just got to work at getting better.”