The Chicago Bears are confused at how head coach Marc Trestman has handled several discipline cases lately. The most notable of these are the benching of starting quarterback Jay Cutler and discplining offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer. Cutler leads the NFL with 24 turnovers while Kromer admitted to being the anonymous NFL source cited in an NFL Media report which was critical of Cutler.
The Chicago Bears are confused at how head coach Marc Trestman has handled several discipline cases lately.
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According to a Dec. 18 report by ESPN Chicago's Jeff Dickerson, two anonymous Bears players came forward to say the team is "confused and uncomfortable" over how Trestman benched quarterback Jay Cutler compared to how he disciplined offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer.
Dickerson stresses neither of the two Bears players objected to benching Cutler in favor of backup Jimmy Clausen. However, they, along with some of their other teammates, believe Trestman's handling of the Cutler and Kromer cases are inconsistent. Kromer confessed during a Dec. 8 team meeting he was the anonymous team source in an NFL Media report that criticized Cutler's performance this season. The Bears felt Kromer received "basically a slap on the wrist" from Trestman following the confession.
Nonetheless, Kromer is expected to finish out the 2014 NFL season. Dickerson says the Kromer issue "further magnifies the distrust between Trestman and the locker room," an issue which has hounded Chicago for the most part of its dismal 5-9 campaign.
As for the Cutler benching, Trestman did acknowledge his inability to get the best out of Cutler, the NFL's highest-paid offensive player ($126 million for seven years) who leads the league in turnovers (24). ESPN Stats & Information (via ESPN Chicago) reveals Cutler turns the ball over every 33.3 snaps, the third-worst in the NFL.
ESPN NFL Insider Mark Dominik points out Cutler's huge contract could have played a part in his beching. Now that Cutler is all but certain to sit out the remainder of the 2014 NFL season, the likelihood of him getting injured is a far-fetched possibility. This will improve the Bears' chances of either cutting or trading him, per Dickerson.
Bears left guard Kyle Long, one of Cutler's close friends, told ESPN Chicago's Michael C. Wright on Thursday he was disappointed with the quarterback's benching. Long expressed confidence in Cutler's abilities and also added the Bears will be there to provide support for the embattled quarterback.
When The Chicago Sun Times' Mark Potash asked Trestman on Dec. 18 what seems to be the issue with Cutler, Trestman insisted it wasn't just about him:
"It's multiple. I'll leave it at that. It's fundamental. It's part of our structure. It's players not being in the right place. It's us not performing at a level, whether it's penalties, not doing our job. It's all of it and part of it is complementary football, as well. We haven't played good complementary football to put our offense in the kind of position it needs to be over the course of the game.
"It's a team thing. It's not one side of the ball. It's all three sides. But in this case offensively we haven't performed at any kind of level that's consistent with our expectations."
Cutler has thought about getting a fresh start with another team in 2015, but Trestman didn't dwell on it in his interview with Potash.
In spite of this, Cutler told Larry Mayer of the Bears' official website on Thursday that he was "shocked at first and then disappointed" when Trestman came forward to inform him of his benching on Wednesday. While Cutler admitted thoughts about playing somewhere else crossed his mind in The Chicago Sun Times report, he told Mayer he prefers to remain with the Bears:
He said, "I would like to stay here. I really like it here. I love the guys in the locker room that I get to play with. Clearly, it's different circumstances now. But going forward, this is where I'd like to be."
Cutler went on to tell Mayer he'd rather "get paid less and be able to play on Sunday and play at a high level." The Bears quarterback emphasized getting paid big is great, but he would rather trade that for a better record. Cutler also expressed his support for Clausen in the ChicagoBears.com interview.
Cutler threw for three interceptions for a passer rating of 55.8 and a QBR of just 6.8 in Chicago's 31-15 home loss to the New Orleans Saints on Dec. 15. The Saints also sacked cutler seven times, per Wright.
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He has thrown for 27,577 yards, 183 touchdowns and 130 interceptions on an 85.3 passer rating in 118 career regular-season games for the Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears, per ESPN stats.