Dear Mr. Emery,
I am a lifelong and dedicated Bears fan. Having barely survived this first half of the season watching your team play inconsistent and head-scratching football, I wanted to pass along some thoughts and suggestions that I think would help you and this team find some success in the second half. I’m a positive fan, so even though your record is 3-5 I still believe there is some reason to be hopeful that your team can turn its misfortunes around and salvage this season.
First off let me say that I do believe the Chicago media and many fans have been overly harsh on the team. Of course no one likes the 3-5 record, and play in all three phases has been wildly inconsistent. However I’m willing to look at the bigger picture and realize that great and even good teams aren’t built in a day. It’s only your third season as general manager and coach Trestman’s second season as head coach. There were bound to be growing pains along the way, as you evaluate personnel, work your draft models, and determine ultimately how the team should be constructed for sustained success. Even your quarterback Jay Cutler prior to last season mentioned that it would likely take three years for this offense to really come together. Naturally no fan wants to hear that, as we all know the need for immediate success in the NFL is very high. In addition, the media will be your best friend when wins are posted and your worst enemy when the losses mount.
Having said that however, let me pass along some suggestions that I hope you take under consideration as you and coach Trestman get through this bye week and prepare for the Green Bay Packers Sunday night.
- Get Jay Cutler right. The maddening thing about this season with Cutler is statistically he’s having his best year in many categories, but I don’t have to elaborate on the fact that he also has roughly 7-8 throws this season which have been back-breaking turnovers. When I say get him right, I don’t mean turn him into some elite quarterback like Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady overnight, just get him to a point where he protects the football. It’s not hard to envision this team being 5-3 right now if some of those throws, fumbles, and mis-communications do not take place. If this team is going to be mediocre on the whole, then you simply can’t let your franchise-paid quarterback be a significant reason why. It’s obvious that you and coach Trestman both believe in and trust Cutler to be your quarterback at least for the next three seasons, but those are going to be long seasons if you don’t sort him out.
- End the Shea McClellin experiment. I get it – he’s your initial first round draft pick, and it’s hard to give up on that guy. But it’s been three seasons and while you laud his speed and athletic ability, his game just isn’t translating to the NFL at neither defensive end nor linebacker. I don’t blame you for making the pick, as drafting through a coaching transition is a very tough thing to do, but it’s time to cut your losses and see if Christian Jones is a bigger part of the future on defense.
- Keep a very close eye on the coaching staff, including Trestman. We can bag on the players all we want, in particular Cutler, but if you watched that first half of the season like I did you probably took away the fact that play calling and in-game adjustments are terribly lacking. Because it’s the second year in Trestman’s offensive system, you no longer have the element of surprise like last season. Defenses are playing to take away the vertical passing game through Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey, and it seem all too often that Trestman and Cutler try to fit a square peg into a round hole and insist on willing the ball downfield when they shouldn’t. I’m sure if you look up Cutler’s downfield passing numbers you’ll get my drift. These coaches cannot wait until halftime to make their adjustments, because at that point it’s too late. Trestman during his press conference insisted the offense would work to get more balance and adjust to certain defensive alignments, so let’s see how that goes over the next eight games. The same goes for Mel Tucker, and whether or not he’s doing the same thing on the defensive side of the ball.
- Get younger on defense. I’m going to give you another game, which is the upcoming match-up at Green Bay. If that defense doesn’t show up, particularly your veteran guys like Lance Briggs, D.J. Williams, McClellin, Chris Conte, or Jared Allen, then you better seriously consider getting younger on defense in a hurry. By all accounts you drafted well on that side of the ball this past year, so if it’s looking like a lost season then get the young guys valuable playing time. There will be no point in playing these veterans the rest of the way particularly if you don’t think they will be back next season.
- Fix the goddamn turf at Soldier Field, and when I say fix it I mean put in field turf. I know you can’t personally do this, but you can implore your management to make this happen. It’s a disgrace. Everyone knows it, including you. No one cares that the city runs the field anymore either, so get mayor Rahm Emanuel on the horn and figure it out, even if it’s done “the Chicago way”.
Well I hope these suggestions don’t fall on deaf ears, as I spent roughly an hour putting this together. I hope for a much better second half of the season, and if that doesn’t happen I hope you’re prepared to make some tough decisions going forward whatever those might be.