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SportsMonday: League Blames Cutler

Editor's Note: Listen to Jim talk sports with Rick Kogan on WGN-AM this morning between 10:15 and noon.

Reports have it that Marc Trestman had interviewed for the offensive coordinator job in Tampa Bay and has either done the same or plans to do the same in Atlanta (although presumably the head coach has to be hired there first), Jacksonville and Cleveland. And then the rumor over the weekend was that new head coach Rex Ryan wanted the man to take the job in Buffalo.

All of this does not exactly bode well for a potential Jay Cutler trade.

It would appear that a whole lot of people are not spreading around the blame for the Bears' brutal flame-out in 2014. They are putting it on one guy. And that guy isn't the coach.

Before we attempt to continue rationally breaking this all down . . . are you frickin' kidding me? We won't know for certain if a team is willing to hire Trestman as OC until they actually do, but come on. Can these people have watched any of the Bears' 2014 games after the first Packer contest? The first half of that first game against Green Bay, the fourth of the season, was the last time the Bears' offense looked like it would be one of the top units in the league.

New general manger Ryan Pace has said one of his first orders of business is to watch every play of this Bears season. If he wants, I can sum it up for him instead: The offense started to go south in the second half of the game played in Wisconsin. It bounced back briefly against Atlanta in week 6, regressed after that and became historically bad in a loss to the Patriots, a second loss to the Packers and beyond.

While the defense gave up more than 100 points combined in games eight and nine, the offense deserved plenty of blame throughout. Trestman's best couldn't control the ball and couldn't put points on the board when it mattered. The defense was terrible and the offense was right there with it. And the offense got even worse down the stretch, leading to Cutler's benching. Cutler was bad, but Trestman's play-calling and basic preparation of his team was worse. The Bears fell behind the Lions and then fell behind the Vikings as they plummeted to last place in their division.

But apparently, in at least several corners of the NFL, it was all the signal-caller's fault. And oh by the way, I do not have a problem with bashing quarterback Jay Cutler to no end. The guy is coming off his worst season in the NFL. It was his ninth. It is more than a little delusional at this point to think that a different coach will figure out how to get Cutler into the playoffs. Unfortunately that doesn't exactly pump up his trade value.

Better to take the big salary cap hit this year (they will also be on the hook for pro-rated portions of his signing bonus for years after that but those will be much less painful than the 2015 compensation) and release him. Start fresh at training camp with a couple youngsters and maybe a veteran back-up, give them all reps in the preseason and go with whoever looks most promising. Keep reminding yourself: That's how the Seahawks ended up with Russell Wilson at the helm. And if it all goes sour and the Bears are terrible next year, well, then they'll have great draft picks (i.e., top three in every round), as opposed to what they'll have if they limp to 8-8 with Cutler.

Best of all would be to trade him, but is that even slightly feasible? Barring legitimate trade interest from someone (and legitimate trade interest is not some NFL writer opining that the Titans or the Bills would be better off with Cutler than without), the Bears have to cut him before March 12, when a $10 million guarantee kicks in for 2016 (on top of his $15.5 million guaranteed in 2015).

One positive: If Ryan hires Trestman, heck if he even considers hiring him, I'll feel considerably better about the Bears not having hired the son of Buddy as their head coach. Actually, the killer there is the Bears didn't even talk to Rex Ryan. How can you say you have done a comprehensive search for a coach when you didn't even talk to the guy who has the best playoff record of any candidate?

Of course, Ryan's four playoff wins on the road happened in 2009 and '10. The Jets then suffered through four sub-par seasons in a row. I'm not saying Ryan was a perfect candidate, but Bears fans sure would appreciate it if someone at Halas Hall would at least leak a disparaging rumor or two about the guy. The fact that there wasn't even a conversation seems to indicate there was personal animosity between Ryan and the McCaskeys. Not good.

The latest word on the Bears' coaching search is that they wanted to talk to Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak but that Kubiak turned them down cold. Also not good. Other possible candidates are retread Mike Shanahan and former Bills coach Doug Marrone. The only way those guys would make sense would be if they had some chance of making the Bears competitive in 2015. They do not.

Better to go with someone young and energetic and hunker down for a big, honking rebuild.


Jim "Coach" Coffman is our man on Mondays. He welcomes your comments.

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