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updated: 1/5/2014 11:39 PM

GM, coach can only hope Cutler decision 'isn't on them'

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  • Give Bears coach Marc Trestman, left, and general manager Phil Emery credit for admitting mistakes. But consequences will be great if they have to admit one on the commitment to quarterback Jay Cutler.

    Give Bears coach Marc Trestman, left, and general manager Phil Emery credit for admitting mistakes. But consequences will be great if they have to admit one on the commitment to quarterback Jay Cutler.
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer


I did it.

Did what?

We'll figure that out later.

For now just accept my confession, forgive me, forget the past, and let's move on to the future.

It's a great strategy and Phil Emery and Marc Trestman employed it to perfection last week.

At times the Bears' general manager and head coach were like politicians saying they shouldn't have voted for this bill or commanding officers saying they shouldn't have stormed that beach.

At a lengthy news conference, Emery and Trestman were sort of regretful and kind of remorseful over a few mistakes and were ready to proceed to the rest of the Jay Cutler era.

What could you bark back at them? That a few of their decisions were wrong? They already said that.

So what's left to say? Yes, you're right, you were wrong?

Emery and Trestman essentially used your artillery on themselves and in the process disarmed you.

Injuries decimated the Bears' defense? Emery blamed himself for not providing more depth. The Bears were short at safety? He blamed himself for drafting Brandon Hardin in 2012. Shea McClellin is a first-round bust? He didn't concede that but did indicate that the player is playing out of position.

As for Trestman, he took the blame for several of the Bears' on-field deficiencies with something like "that starts with me" or "that's on me." He also invoked them during the season after a couple of Bears losses, taking responsibility like a good leader should, but he also stuck to his original story at times.

Accountability at the top of an organization is preferable and in football should trickle down to everybody from players to ball boys.

Now for the downside: Admitting past mistakes is admitting that future mistakes are possible.

If Emery miscalculated on the little matter of Hardin, what's to say he didn't on the bigger issue of Cutler? Every admitted mistake is a strike against the mistaken, and if the Bears' quarterback turns out to be a mistake it would be strike three at least.

For Emery and Trestman, Cutler represents a for-better-or-worse proposition, a blessing or curse, a defining success or failure.

Up to now the consequences for erring have been minimal. Yes, even though Emery's occasional evaluation error and Trestman's odd game-day gaffe contributed to missing the playoffs.

But if they misjudged Cutler it could mean as much as a lost decade, by which time Emery and Trestman will be gone anyway and the rest of us still will be here to suffer the fallout.

The two of them are all in on Cutler, and Cutler is all on them now.

The coach bought into the quarterback nearly from the start and certainly after the Bears began the season with 3 straight victories. The general manager eventually bought in with a seven-year, $126-million contract, $54 million of which is guaranteed.

That's a lot of money for a quarterback whose 1 career playoff victory came against a sub-.500 team.

The Bears can only hope that Emery and Trestman saw in Cutler what they needed to rather than merely what they wanted to.

It's always considerably easier to stay with an incumbent quarterback than to search for a new one, so the mind can be open to positives and blind to negatives.

Now no forgiveness is left for "it's on me" if Cutler keeps being injured or for "it starts with me" if his erratic decision-making persists.

Emery and Trestman might be correct and Cutler is good enough to help the Bears win a Super Bowl.

If they're wrong, though, no admission will temper the criticism.

There, I said it … let's move on.

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