Dec 29, 2014 12:26 PM
Bears fire GM Phil Emery, coach Marc Trestman
The Associated Press
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) Fans were fed up and so was the team's matriarch.
The Chicago Bears made sweeping changes on Monday, firing general manager Phil Emery and coach Marc Trestman after missing the playoffs for the seventh time in eight years.
Trestman is out after going 13-19 in two seasons while Emery lasted just three years. The Bears went 5-11 in a mostly miserable season, never challenging for the NFC North lead after the first few weeks as quarterback Jay Cutler and the rest of the offense struggled mightily.
"We expect excellence," chairman George McCaskey said.
What they got was something different, and even McCaskey's mother, Virginia McCaskey, had enough.
"She's (ticked) off," George McCaskey said after about a 10-second pause when asked about his mother. "I can't think of a 91-year-old woman that that description would apply to, but in this case, I can't think of a more accurate description. She's been on this Earth for eight of the Bears' nine championships, and she wants more. She feels that it's been too long since the last one, and that dissatisfaction is shared by her children, her grandchildren and her-great grandchildren. She's fed up with mediocrity. She feels that she and Bears fans everywhere deserve better."
It was clear as the season wore on, with fan unrest growing, that change was coming. The question was how far up the ladder it would go.
The Bears also fired offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer. Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker is still officially under contract, although he is expected to be let go given the way the Bears struggled under him the past two seasons.
The Bears hired former New York Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi as a consultant to help with the search for a general manager and coach.
But ultimately, it will be McCaskey and President and CEO Ted Phillips making the call.
"This job was an opportunity of a lifetime," Emery said in a brief session with reporters. "My only regret is that we didn't win enough games for that opportunity to continue."
Emery did not take questions from reporters.
Trestman, in a statement issued through the team, thanked the McCaskey family for the opportunity to coach the Bears.
McCaskey said he is happy with the current chain of command, which has the coach reporting to the GM and the GM to the president. He said the McCaskey family has "complete faith" in Phillips but did not rule out the possibility of removing him from the football side of the operation.
Phillips said there is no timeline for the hires but did say the Bears would move with a "sense of urgency." Accorsi has already provided a list of GM candidates. The Bears did not rule out hiring a coach first.
The new GM and coach have a big decision to make with quarterback Jay Cutler. He tied Philip Rivers for the league lead with 18 interceptions after signing a $126 million, seven-year contract at the end of last season.
The deal, which guaranteed $54 million, would make him difficult if not impossible to trade. Cutting him is also a possibility.
Phillips said that will be up to the new GM and coach. But McCaskey insisted he does not regret giving Cutler that huge deal.
"That was a decision that Phil made with our approval," he said.
Phillips said he does not expect any players to meet with potential coaching candidates as Cutler did during the last search.
The house cleaning was certainly not what the Bears envisioned with a prolific offense returning intact and a rebuilt defense in tow. But little went right for Chicago this season.
There were distractions throughout the year, whether it was linebacker Lance Briggs being allowed to miss practice to open a restaurant in California the week of the opener, Kromer admitting he was the NFL Network's source behind a critical report of Cutler late in the season or Cutler getting benched in favor Jimmy Clausen late in the season.
Trestman surprised some by allowing star receiver Brandon Marshall to fly to New York on a weekly basis to record Showtime's "Inside the NFL." Marshall, who is open about his struggles with borderline personality disorder, had an off year and at one point gave a rambling news conference over past allegations of domestic abuse. He also challenged a Detroit fan on Twitter to a boxing match for charity, and reporters standing in the hallway overheard him screaming in the locker room after a loss to Miami at Soldier Field in October that raised all sorts of questions about where the team was headed.
"We didn't have a successful year as players. So the coaches didn't have a successful year," tight end Martellus Bennett said. "I think everybody has their hand in the pot. And the gumbo doesn't taste that great when everybody's hand is in the pot."
As for Emery, the decision to replace Lovie Smith with Trestman who at times seemed overmatched in his first NFL head coaching job after winning two titles with the CFL's Montreal Alouettes backfired. The fact that the man he passed over for the job, Bruce Arians, led Arizona to the playoffs made it even worse.
Giving Cutler a big contract after last season when the franchise player tag was an option is looking like another mistake. Emery did have success rebuilding the offensive line before the 2013 season.
But the makeover he gave the defense, bringing in Jared Allen among others, last offseason did not pay off. The Bears allowed 442 points, the second most in franchise history behind a team-record 478 last season. They joined the 1923 Rochester Jeffersons as the only teams to give up 50 or more in back-to-back games.
Emery also had a spotty draft record.
"Something has to change," veteran cornerback Tim Jennings said. "I'm not surprised by it. I mean, hopefully it will be a good one this time."
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