The 2014 Bears: How We Got Here
Dec 21, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Detroit Lions running back Reggie Bush (21) runs out of the grasp of Chicago Bears defensive end Jared Allen (69) for a 13-yard touchdown run during the first quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
I normally write a ‘Morning After’ post, but today, I’m not writing about the usual Bears loss. Today, I’m writing about the current state of the Bears, instead of my usual whining.
This mess was years in the making. Most of Jerry Angelo’s drafts were poor. He would consistently miss on second, third, and fourth round picks, guys that were expected to contribute to the teams success over the course of the following seasons. Remember Dan Bazuin? Him and I have played the same number of downs in the NFL. Which is about zero. What about Jarron Gilbert? We should cut him some slack though, the fact that he can jump out of a pool is pretty freakin’ sweet. Roosevelt Williams? I have literally no idea who this person is. Taken in the third round of the 2002 draft. Played nine games for the Bears. But, I’m not done. Do you remember Mark Bradley? Bradley was considered to be a massive reach, but Angelo thought he had struck gold. His incredibly limited production isn’t enough to justify a selection in the second round. You see what I’m getting at? Look at the Packers. Ted Thompson is committed to building his roster through the draft. And that’s how it should be done. Don’t the Bears have the most free agent acquisitions on their roster? That speaks volumes about the structure of the team.
Thankfully, the McCaskey’s had had enough. They fired Jerry Angelo in early 2012, and Phil Emery took the reigns as General Manger. Phil Emery’s first big move was trading for Miami wide receiver Brandon Marshall, and the buzz in Chicago began to build. Finally, this organization looked aggressive. The roster looked solid.
Phil Emery’s first season yielded a 10-6 record and no playoff berth. At season’s end, the Bears fired head coach Lovie Smith and after a long search for head coach, Emery went with Marc Trestman. Trestman was considered to be an offensive guru, and saw massive success in the CFL, winning multiple Gray Cup Titles. The stars were aligning for this ball club. After being a defensively minded team for years, the Bears had “QB Whisperer” at Head Coach. People seem to forget how well-regarded Trestman was amongst the league. The expectations put on the Bears was and continues to be huge.
Marc Trestman’s first season as Head Coach resulted in an 8-8 record on the year. Granted, the slew of injuries on defense played a huge role in the mess showcased in 2013, but, given the expectations placed on the Bears, the season looked to be a failure.
I’d have to think that Phil Emery’s goal going into this past offseason was sure up an aging, broken defense. And we have to give him credit. He definitely tried. The obvious focus was the defensive line, signing Jared Allen, Willie Young, and Lamarr Houston to help generate some pass rush from the front seven. Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton were drafted to bring some stoutness to the interior defensive line. Emery did his best to address the secondary by drafting VT Corner Kyle Fuller in the first round, and signing veteran safety Ryan Mundy.
Here’s where Emery went wrong, he almost completely ignored the linebacking corps. In his defense, he had no idea Lance Briggs was more focused on a career in the barbecue industry than a career in the football industry. In a desperate move to salvage some value from a first round bust, Shea McClellin was moved to outside linebacker. It’s safe to say it hasn’t really panned out. DJ Williams has had a terrible year, and it’s clear his age is slowing him down. Although, I will say that Christian Jones has been a bright spot for this defense, and I’m looking forward to seeing him in Navy and Orange for the coming years. When you pair that with an absolutely terrible defensive coordinator, you get a record of 5-10.
At some point in the season, maybe after the Miami game, this team lost all faith in their head coach. There was no unity, no chemistry, no passion. I whole-heartedly believe it was players like Lance Briggs, a Lovie guy, that refused to adapt to Trestman’s coaching style. A toxic locker room can absolutely effect on-field play. Just ask the Jets. This season has made it completely evident that these players don’t want to play for this coach. Let’s look at the Kromer incident, you’re telling me the best way to rectify the situation was a slap on the wrist? He sold out your locker room. He sold out your franchise quarterback. And then you make Jay Cutler the scapegoat? I understand wanting to hold players accountable, but by benching Jay, you’re singling out one player as the cause of your problems. No other changes have been made this season, not at offensive coordinator, not at defensive coordinator or head coach, but a change at quarterback? That’s gonna fix everything? Are you kidding me? That’s ridiculous. I absolutely refuse to believe the Bears move on from Cutler. I mean, if Emery is patient enough to keep Shea McClellin on the field, I don’t see him giving up on Cutler after a bad season.
And here we are. The Bears are 5-10, sitting last in the NFC North. The future looks bleak, but we’ll have some clarity come Black Monday.