Accountability Is Finally Present At Halas Hall As Emery, Trestman Get Fired

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Marc Trestman and Phil Emery. (Jose M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune)

LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Widespread changes are underway at Halas Hall and by February, the Chicago Bears organization will look very different.

Both general manager Phil Emery and Marc Trestman were fired Monday morning shortly after they polished off a disastrous 5-11 season with a 13-9 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

Team president Ted Phillips is being retained, but it’s very possible his responsibilities change, with someone else hired above the GM to oversee the Bears’ football operations.

That means the search will be underway in possibly three separate hires, meaning the process could linger through January. Depending on who the Bears target, they could also be held back by NFL rules that inhibit interviews for assistant coaches currently still coaching in the playoffs. Assistants with first round byes are permitted to interview for head coaching jobs this week, provided that their team gives them permission. Assistants who win their wild card games are permitted to interview through the divisional playoff games, again, provided that their team gives them permission. All interviews involving assistants participating in the postseason must be conducted in that assistant’s home city.

Of course, for the Bears, the hiring of a general manager and possibly someone above the general manager will be the first priority.

But know this: Chairman George McCaskey is fed up and ready to change the course of a franchise headed in the wrong direction. Ultimately, McCaskey did what Trestman and Emery failed to do all season: he held someone accountable for their mistakes.

For Emery, his three-year tenure as Bears general manager will be defined by a bad coaching hire and a bad contract handed to quarterback Jay Cutler. Instead of hiring Bruce Arians, the reigning NFL Coach of the Year, Emery opted for Trestman, the longtime NFL assistant whose only head coach experience came in the Canadian Football League. It was a risky decision that ultimately cost Emery his job.

As we would learn, the major flaw in Emery’s hiring process was the narrow-minded focus on finding someone to coach one specific player — Jay Cutler — rather than an entire football team. And when Cutler proved to be too difficult of a project for even Marc Trestman, the entire regime fell apart.

But Trestman’s failures go well beyond Cutler’s regression. No one can ignore the following:

– Trestman was only 3-9 against the NFC North.

– In two years under Trestman, the Bears allowed 29.9 points per game in 2013 and 27.6 points per game in 2014, the two worst totals in franchise history.

– While the Bears finished second in scoring in 2013, the offense fell apart in 2014, only averaging 19.9 points per game, 3.5 points less than they did in Lovie Smith’s final season, when Mike Tice was the offensive coordinator.

And those were just realities that played out on the field. Off the field, the Bears became a circus. Notable events this season included:

– Lance Briggs skipping the first practice of the regular season to open up a restaurant in California.

– Brandon Marshall holding a 45-minute press conference in September to talk about his domestic violence past, a rambling disaster that felt much more like a court hearing/therapy session.

– Marshall was also permitted to fly to New York every Tuesday this season to be a part of Showtime’s Inside The NFL show. It became a distraction at times, including late in the season when Marshall admitted he would have “buyers remorse” over Cutler’s contract too.

– Twitter also became a place of distraction for the Bears, as Lamarr Houston told fans to “eat dirt” after a loss in Carolina and Marshall offered a Detroit Lions fan $25,000 to fight him.

– Then things got really out of hand when offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer admitted to criticizing Jay Cutler privately to NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport. He apologized to Cutler in front of the offense, but it ended up breaching any trust that was left between the players and coaching staff.

Trestman didn’t respond to any of the above incidents with public discipline, signaling a complete lack of accountability within the organization. Shockingly, Trestman then decided to bench Cutler in Week 16, a power move that was way too late given that the Bears were already eliminated from the playoffs.

All of this nonsense left the Bears in a state of dysfunction, which is why George McCaskey brought the hammer down on both Trestman and Emery Monday morning.

Now begins the long process of repairing the mess, but at least now there is acknowledgement that a mess exists.

Accountability is finally evident at Halas Hall.

Adam Hoge covers the Bears for 87.7 The Game and TheGameChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.