LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) The way this season is slipping away, coach Marc Trestman can understand the frustration around Chicago.
The losses are piling up. The playoff hopes are all but gone. And the Bears somehow hit a new low when that seemed impossible.
”We know our fans are disappointed,” Trestman said Monday, a day after the Bears got pounded 55-14 at Green Bay. ”They have a right to be. This has been a very disturbing stretch of three weeks. There’s no doubt about it. But we’re focused in and the only way we can work our way out of this is to go get ready for Minnesota.”
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Calls for sweeping, top-to-bottom changes are ripping through Chicago like a winter wind gust, and no one from the McCaskey family owners on down is being spared.
There are big questions about Trestman and general manager Phil Emery with Chicago poised to miss the playoffs for the seventh time in eight years. There is even more heat on defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, whose unit gave up more than 50 points for the second straight game.
But just as he did two weeks ago, Trestman said he’s not making any changes to his staff ”at this time.” He continued to back Tucker and insisted he’s not concerned that quarterback Jay Cutler may be losing the support of his teammates.
The bigger issue is whether the Bears (3-6) are losing the support of their fan base after losing for the fifth time in six games. The debacle at Green Bay was just as ugly as the 51-23 loss at New England two weeks earlier.
”As I’ve said before this, I think this team and this locker room is in a good place at this time,” Trestman said. ”And we’re in a position where we have to work our way out of this. And I think the team is focused on doing this.”
He reiterated Monday that the Bears are preparing well. It’s just that their performance in practice is not translating to the games, and he can’t pinpoint why.
Tucker has been a popular target with the defense struggling in his two seasons. He was essentially given a do-over after injuries gutted the defense a year ago. But the performance has not improved despite a major overhaul in the offseason.
The Bears have been outscored a combined 106-37 overall the past two games and 94-7 in the first half of their past three. They have allowed 50 or more points in three of their past 11 games, something they had only done six times before.
”To me, (Tucker is) doing everything he can under the circumstances to coach, to teach and to lead that side of the ball, and he’s got a very good staff with him,” Trestman said.
Five-time Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen has just 1 1/2 sacks after signing a four-year deal that guaranteed $15.5 million. Defensive end Lamarr Houston, a key offseason addition, suffered a season-ending injury to his right knee celebrating a sack in the closing minutes at New England, one of the more embarrassing moments for the Bears this season.
”You know, we have good players,” Allen said. ”We just aren’t obviously a good team. When you get beat down like this, you can’t really say much else, I guess.”
It’s not just the defense, though.
An offense that ranked among the best last season is regressing in a big way in Trestman’s second year. Cutler continues to make the same mistakes that have defined his career, and he can’t seem to do anything right against Green Bay. Including the playoffs, Cutler is 1-11 against the Packers after another forgettable performance that included two interceptions.
Even Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker took a shot at him, tweeting Monday: ”After this past week, I still have more wins in WI than Jay Cutler.”
Trestman said he did not consider lifting Cutler at halftime when the Bears trailed 42-0 and the quarterback had two turnovers.
He also said he’s ”not concerned” that teammates’ support for their quarterback might be waning. And when asked if he thought about benching Cutler against Minnesota this weekend, Trestman indicated that’s not an option.
”I think the biggest thing is that Jay has got to play better,” Trestman said. ”He didn’t play well enough (Sunday), and we didn’t play well enough and I’m certain that he’d take accountability for that. But it’s very clear he did not play well enough yesterday. We can’t sugarcoat that. At the same time we didn’t play collectively well enough as a team.”
NOTE: Trestman said he’s ”very optimistic” about Brandon Marshall’s availability after the receiver exited in the fourth quarter with a left ankle injury. Marshall was slowed by a right ankle injury earlier this season. … The Bears waived CB Teddy Williams and elevated G Ryan Groy from the practice squad. Williams appeared in five games for Chicago this season, recording two special teams tackles.
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